Every parent has a natural desire to do anything they possibly can to protect their children from things that make them feel distressed. When a child is  affected by anxiety issues, it can be particularly difficult for parents to see their child feeling uncomfortable when he or she encounters feared situations. In an effort to somehow make their child’s life better, parents may allowing their child to avoid feared situation.

Doing so might, in the short run, appear to be the best thing to do as it does provide both a parent and a child an immediate relief from anxiety related stress. In the long run, however, it can lead in what therapists call a “Protection Trap” as it might reinforce children’s misperceptions that they are unable to cope with anxiety provoking situations on their own, which in turn strengthen their anxiety even further., some parents engage in overprotective behaviors.

These may include providing reassurance, stepping in too quickly to decrease the level of distress by doing things for your child, promoting avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations, doing homework or school projects for your child when their anxiety makes these difficult, or making excuses for your child so that the natural consequences of their avoidant behaviors do not occur.

Helping Your Child

If you suspect that your child suffers from an anxiety disorder and you as a parent have become very involved in the overprotective behaviors described above, do not delay in getting professional help. Seek a professional who specializes in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment involving gradual, step-by-step exposures to things that your child is afraid of.

As a parent, you may think that having your child who is already suffering to participate in fear-producing exposure therapies might seem extreme because they can make the child unhappy, anxious, and angry. However, allowing your child to engage in exposure tasks is the best way towards recovery from anxiety as it will teach your child how to manage and eventually overcome their fears and anxiety.

Irina Fredericks, Ph.D., LMHC,  specializes in evidence-based assessment and counseling services for children, adolescents, and adults. She offers her services in both Russian and English languages. The services are provided fully ONLINE via Skype and/or in person at Delta Psychological Group, a private practice located in Aventura, Florida. For more information or to contact Dr. Fredericks, please click here.

 

Written on July 22nd, 2011 , Anxiety Disorders, Child Psychology Issues

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Dr. Irina Fredericks

Licensed Mental Health Counselor