Many children struggle with anxiety. Extreme fear, worry, and anticipatory anxiety can lead children to begin to avoid situations and greatly limit their activities. Anxiety that is left unaddressed can also lead to poor self-esteem, poor self-confidence, and can put a child at greater risk for developing depression in the future. Fortunately, anxiety is one of the most well researched mental health concerns. There are extremely effective short term-treatments, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. This therapy helps the child to change thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about the feared situation. And it creates gradual, systemic changes in behavior to allow the child to better manage the fear.
Certainly, treatments that take into consideration the child’s individual strengths, environment (e.g., family relationships, peer relationships, school setting), temperament, level of insight, motivation, and other factors (e.g., health or other concerns) will be the most effective. In addition, anxiety that is situational or due to a major change in a child’s life (e.g., parental divorce, loss of a family member, transitioning to middle/high school, peer difficulties, coping with medical health issues) will require a less structured approach in order to tailor the therapy to the child’s individual circumstances.