Children get nervous sometimes–as a parent, you’re probably familiar with shy behavior in a child, but what about when it begins to exceed simple modesty? What happens when it escalates to childhood anxiety?
When it gets to this level, some parents make the mistake of hoping that it’ll improve and disappear with time–but very rarely it does. Research has shown time and time again that early intervention for childhood anxiety and depression can make an enormous difference.
Research shows early intervention is the best route
Many studies are confirming something that almost seems obvious: when a problem arises, it’s better to treat it earlier rather than later. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses and they’re usually the first to show themselves early in life.
Anxiety disorders often set the stage for further mental health issues to seed and grow with time if treatment doesn’t intervene. Because anxiety can pop up in an individual as early as 3-years-old, it’s important to develop programs and tactics to help settle these budding signs of childhood anxiety.
In cognitive behavioral therapy–the leading way to treat anxiety–the focus is on exposure. Programs are using this component to teach an at-risk child how to get through a situation they fear and then introduce them to that situation so they can take the therapy and exercise it in real life.
For example, when I was a child I was terrified of phone calls. I wouldn’t call anyone, I wouldn’t answer anyone, it was odd and ridiculous but for some reason I couldn’t do it. To combat this type of overly fearful behavior, my parents took small steps to expose me to phone calls.
They’d call my grandmother–who I adored–and they’d put her on speaker phone. At first I was hesitant, but I eventually was fine with it. Then they moved to calling her and handing me the phone to talk to her. Finally, they asked if I’d call her all on my own–and I did.
Fears aren’t dismantled all at once, but over time through work and patience. I don’t know if I would’ve gotten over my fear if they hadn’t helped me through those steps, but I do know that the research shows that there was a high chance I wouldn’t have.
What makes a child more at risk for anxiety & depression?
While we still don’t fully understand anxiety disorders, there are a few factors that researchers have pinpointed that can put an individual more at risk for childhood anxiety:
- Genetics. Having a parent or sibling with anxiety puts an individual at five times the regular risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
- Medical Issues. If an individual has an underlying health issue, it can cause them to develop symptoms of anxiety to a full blown anxiety disorder.
- Trauma. Traumatic events can trigger anxiety in an individual, especially if other factors are already present.
Asheville Academy is here for your family
Asheville Academy for Girls is a therapeutic boarding school for girls, ages 10-14. Our students commonly struggle with childhood anxiety, depression, ADHD, learning differences, and other behavioral or emotional challenges.
With the help of our licensed therapists, experienced teachers, caring staff, and expertly designed program, our students move closer to a healthier life. We use the best tactics and therapeutic methods in order to build a healthy self esteem for girls at Asheville Academy.
For more information about how we treat childhood anxiety at Asheville Academy, call 800-264-8709 today.