The longer I practice the more I am concerned that our children are becoming more and more anxious at younger and younger ages. While I was used to seeing anxious teenagers with worries about grades, standardized tests, juggling a myriad of extracurricular activities, and ultimately getting into a college, I am now seeing younger and younger anxious children worried about a linty of things.
It is not uncommon for me to be seeing an elementary school child (1st-6th grade) for their check up and when I start discussing sleep I find out that the child is scared to sleep alone, will not spend the night with friends, and has tried just “about everything” to try and fix it. There are others who are so worried about tragedies occurring in their school, or being abducted or hit by a terrible tornado or hurricane that they have constant tummy aches and headaches and don’t want to go to school or be away from their parents.
The list of what causes their anxiety seems endless, and part of this may due to the constant bombardment of news via TV, internet and other sources. Although our world often seems large and impersonal, this constant and repetitive news stream also seems to bring every story into our own neighborhood. This was not the case before cable, internet and the need to fill 24 hours a day with programming.
But I digress. The anxiety issue is concerning and I find myself often thinking, “get over it”. The problem is that some of these children have tried and tried and need help to “get over it”. I also don’t think that for most children this comes in the form of a pill. The thought of putting thousand of anxious kids on medicine really worries me. I wish I thought that the world was going to get “less scary” or be any less anxiety provoking, but I unfortunately think that our children, and my patients are going to have to be “taught” how to deal with anxiety in a stressful world.
As I tell these families, these young brains are very pliable and are really ready to learn new ways to help their brains deal with anxious and worrisome thoughts. One of the ways to address these emotions is with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Check out our new feature called “Parenting Panel”. We have invited experts to provide expert information from their respective fields of expertise. On Tuesday, 1/28/14, watch for a daily dose with a guest author who will describe how CBT works. It is fascinating and works well to help children, teens and even adults to learn “to get over it”, with a little guidance from trained professionals.