CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for Anxious Children – When the Adult and Child Therapy Centre feel therapy is indicated
Some separation anxiety is common in children when they begin primary school. This presents as clinginess to a parent when the child is dropped to school in the morning and/or a refusal to go to school. Some children complain of pain in their tummy. This is not of concern in the first week or two of beginning school; however, if the child fails to settle after this time, some help may be needed. It is important that the parent or school do not “accommodate” this anxiety at this time as it may become a pattern.
Things to look out for with Anxiety in young children:
- Persistent ‘tummy’ ache at trigger points eg Sunday night before school.
- The end of holidays prior to returning to school.
- Before a party/event.
- Crying for no apparent reason.
- Becoming angry/lashing out for no apparent reason.
- Needing to be settled for prolonged periods.
- Sleeping in parents’ bed or asking a parent to sleep in theirs.
Left untreated, anxiety always generalises to other situations/things. The child might start being anxious or refusing to attend school, and this can generalise out to after-school activities, parties and/or play dates. Oftentimes, by the time the child appears in the therapy room, the anxiety has become so widespread that the child is refusing school. It is imperative therefore that the anxious child is treated quickly. If a child is complaining of ‘tummy’ ache at any of the trigger points above for more than a couple of days, then treatment for anxiety should begin.
The most common anxiety disorder in children:
- Separation anxiety (If left untreated or not treated quickly enough, this will evolve into GAD which is more difficult to treat). Separation anxiety is diagnosed when the child presents with persistent ‘tummy’ aches at the point of separation from the parent. Whilst working with a child with anxiety, a number of sessions of parenting strategies are carried out. In the Dublin Adult and Child Therapy Centre, they recommend CBT or working with their Behavioural Analyst on parenting strategies in tandem with each other as they believe that the child cannot be treated in isolation from the family they are living in. This is considered to be the most effective means of working with an anxious child. With young children, therapy is done mainly through the child’s parents.
For more information on these services and workshops: Visit their website: www.adultandchildtherapy.ie
Phone: (01) 2789516