Dealing with panic and anxiety in children

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Just like adults, children can experience anxiety and panic attacks. When children begin experiencing abnormal amounts of anxiety, parents often notice them beginning to isolate themselves and/or shy away from their peers at school or in social settings.

Children suffering from anxiety often feel incapable of completing normal, everyday tasks that their peers easily complete, such as putting away and organizing toys in their bedroom or classroom.

This anxiety is often be triggered by simply being told to complete a task that a teacher or parent may view as reasonable; however, it may cause overwhelming emotions for the child because they feel unconfident in their ability to complete it.

There are many ways parents can help calm their children down when experiencing anxiety, and even help prevent the anxiety from elevating into a panic attack. If parents begin noticing anxious feelings or behavior in their child, bring them to place where they feel safe and at ease, such as their bedroom.

Once they are in their ‘safe zone’, parents should try talking to their child about what may be causing their anxiety, and reassure them that they are safe and that you can work through these feelings together. Younger children may not have the capacity to fully verbalize what is causing their strong emotions; in this case, deep breathing techniques can help calm them down.

The more support a child has, the easier it is to help them with their anxiety. Therefore, parents are encouraged to discuss their child’s condition with their teachers and any other caregivers. When a child’s anxiety becomes debilitating, and begins interfering with every day activities, parents should seek advice and evaluation from their child’s pediatrician.

If their condition has developed into an actual anxiety disorder, the child would benefit from a referral to a therapist or related behavioral health specialist. Here in the community, parents can reach out to Cone Health’s behavioral health services, as they have an exceptional team of behavioral health professionals who specialize in child and adolescent mental health conditions.

Spokesperson Background:
Gregory Pickett is a clinical social worker at the child and adolescent inpatient unit at Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital.

Pickett received a Bachelor of Social Work from UNCG in 2010, and earned a Master of Social Work from the Joint Master of Social Work Program at UNCG and A&T University in 2012.

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