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FOR PARENTS: How to Help Your Child Manage an Anxiety Disorder

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Here is a list of advice for parents of a child struggling with anxiety.

Educate yourself on anxiety disorders. It is important to be familiar with the process your child is going through in order to understand where they are coming from and to make the best choices in terms of treatment options. However, be wary of “over diagnosing” your child via the internet.

Encourage treatment. Anxiety is highly treatable. Assist in making the first appointment with a mental health specialist if your child is afraid to ask for help. Go with them to the appointment for moral support.

Make yourself available. Spend time with your child. Do fun things together. Laughter and being outside are some of the best ways to relieve anxiety. Also, let them know that you are available for a call if they need you.

Help them set realistic goals. Managing anxiety is a slow process. Help your child set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) goals to measure their progress. Measure goals based on individual improvement. Remember that for someone dealing with anxiety, just going to a class could be a significant step forward.

Reinforce positive behaviors. Give praise for things that your child does well, rather than focusing on consequences for negative behaviors. Encourage healthy behaviors such as exercise and proper sleep patterns.

Check in. Ask about their experience. Ask how you can help, but don’t nag. Learn when to take a step back.

Listen. Don’t judge, and don’t assume that you know what your child will say. Acknowledge that you don’t know what their anxiety feels like.

Forgive. Recognize that there will be ups and downs during your child’s process. Forgive them for their bad moods, outbursts, and mistakes. Try to keep yourself from getting frustrated. Forgive yourself too, for not being perfect either. And remember that it doesn’t help for you to blame yourself.

Set boundaries. Just because you are your child’s biggest supporter does not mean that you can’t set limits. Set expectations about things like curfew, money, and drug and alcohol use. Hold your ground without getting angry or yelling if your child tests those limits. Consistency is important.

Take care of yourself first. Helping a child with anxiety can be exhausting. Remember that you have to be healthy in order to help them get healthy. Maintain your own lifestyle, routine, and responsibilities. Take time for yourself.

If you want more information on anxiety and how to manage it, download our free white paper- “Young Adult Anxiety”. 

Download Your FREE White Paper 

This white paper was sponsored by Pure Life Aspiro, a research-based Wilderness Adventure Therapy program for young adults, located in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Pure Life by Aspiro offers safe, effective, and clinically-sophisticated treatment options for young adults.

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