Anxiety in Kids & Teens
Have an anxious or fearful child or teen? We can help you tell the difference between the normal worries that all kids experience and larger worries that might signal a problem.
Many children and adolescents are able to recover from depression and anxiety without the need for medication. Our non-medication-based, behavioral treatment programs for kids, teens, and adolescents will meet your child where they’re at and teach them life-long coping skills that will help them face their current worries and successfully adapt to future challenges. However, we recognize that every situation is unique and that some children might also benefit from medication in addition to behavioral strategies. If you are interested in having your child receive medication, we will coordinate care with your child’s current doctor or help arrange a consultation with a psychiatrist who specializes in treating children and teens.
When Do Kids Develop Anxiety?
Kids may begin showing signs of anxiety at any age, but many children are much more likely to begin experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression near puberty. Other factors that can lead to the development of anxiety or depression are stressors like moving, changing schools, or experiencing a divorce. Kids who previously have had no issues with depression or anxiety may begin having a hard time coping with these challenges.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Children & Teens
Anxiety and related conditions in kids and teens can take many forms. Excessive worry, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, pediatric OCD, panic disorder, phobias, separation anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, trichotillomania (hair-pulling), and dermatillomania (skin-picking) are all possibilities. Our psychologists specialize in treating these and other conditions in kids and teens.
Here are some common symptoms of anxiety in children and teens:
- Does your child experience worry or panic that keeps them from enjoying life?
- Does your child get nervous when making even simple decisions?
- Does your child act excessively nervous or scared when meeting new people?
- Does your child have physical symptom attacks in which they experience heart-pounding, sweating, nausea, or dizziness?
- Does your child have a difficult time separating from you (e.g.,when you leave the house, when they go to school, during bedtime)?
- Does your child spend lots of time recopying homework assignments or checking their answers for mistakes?
- Does your child become fearful when sleeping in their own bedroom away from you?
- Does your child worry a lot about tests and schoolwork?
- Does your well-behaved child worry excessively about “being bad” or hurting other people’s feelings?
- Does your child get stuck repeating unwanted behaviors like hair-pulling or skin-picking?
- Does your child worry when you travel away from home or if s/he can’t reach you by phone or text?
- Does your child ask you the same questions over and over again?
- Does your child worry excessively about death or dying, such as the possibility of getting in a car accident or choking to death?
- Does your child worry about bad things happening, such as getting sick, going to hell, or accidentally hurting someone?
- Has your child started avoiding activities they used to enjoy, like sports or spending time with friends?
- Has your child become fearful “overnight” for no apparent reason?
- Does your child worry excessively about his/her appearance?
- Does your child worry about accidentally saying bad words or doing the “wrong thing”?
- Does your child get stuck thinking about or apologizing for mistakes made in the past?
If so, we can help. Our behavioral treatment programs are designed to target and resolve these and other concerns.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Kids & Teens
We provide cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) strategies for kids and teens that have been shown to be effective by research. Moreover, we are one of the only treatment centers in Palm Beach County with psychologists who have been formally trained in exposure and response prevention (ERP) and habit reversal training (HRT), two specialized types of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for your child or adolescent will teach them the skills they need to face their anxiety. Treatment involves hard work, but the right treatment approach provided by the right psychologist can be interactive and fun. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that is effective for reducing symptoms of depression, OCD, panic, and other anxiety disorders. CBT treatment approaches are based on understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related and then working to modify any faulty (or unhealthy) beliefs. CBT is skills-based and provides tools to help individuals learn to change how they feel.
CBT is different than traditional “talk therapy” in the sense that it is active, goal-driven, and directive. Psychologists using CBT with kids and teens understand that like any skills-based program, effective treatment requires effort and regular practice. This is why our therapists will assign your child therapy-related homework assignments to be completed between sessions.
Tips for Parents of Anxious Children
Healthy parenting practices that worked for your non-anxious children might not necessarily work for your anxious child or teen. In addition to working with your child, our psychologists will provide you with parenting strategies to help you manage challenging situations. Moreover, we can help you navigate the teenage years which can pose unique challenges for even the most savvy parent.
For more information, call our South Florida (Palm Beach County) office at (561) 444-8040 to find out if one of our kid/teen treatment programs is right for your child. We specialize in providing compassionate, effective psychological treatment for children and teens. You can also read more about our outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment programs on this website.