What is Anxiety?
All children and young adults experience certain levels of worry or anxiety, but it can escalate to negatively affect everyday life. Many children have anxiety growing up. This can be stress about a presentation or a big social event at school. This may go away with time, but if it is becoming a problem, it is always good to address it upfront. Severe anxiety can negatively impact your child’s well-being. If you have noticed anxiety issues affecting your child’s quality of life, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
What are the Signs of Anxiety Disorder?
While the signs of anxiety disorder may vary, there are core signs that will help you determine if your child has an anxiety disorder. First of all, it is important to remember that every person suffers from some level of anxiety. However, it becomes an issue when that anxiety starts to affect the daily aspect of your child’s life and ability to function successfully in certain environments. Recognizing the signs of anxiety disorder can help you determine the best plan of action to address anxiety disorder. Some signs to look out for include:
Persistent worry or negative thoughts
Amplified worry and anxiety about regular situations like going to school or a social event
- Finding it hard to concentrate on everyday tasks
- Negative thoughts
- Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or not wanting to get out of bed
- Feeling tense
- Complaining of headaches, stomach aches, or feeling unwell
- Being clingy
- Separation anxiety
- Avoiding everyday activities they used to enjoy
In conclusion, your child may experience all of these signs at one time or another, but when they happen over and over again.
When to Find Help for Your Child
If your child is experiencing the signs above, there is a lot you can do to help. First, talk to them about their anxiety. Talking to them can give them a sense of relief and let them know they have someone to talk to openly. It is good to seek out professional advice for you to see if professional help is a good idea if:
- Anxiety is affecting their school life, social life, or family life
- The anxiety issues are getting worse
- Your help is not working or they refuse to talk about their anxiety
Therefore, after taking steps as a parent to help your child, it may be a good idea to speak to a professional.
What is ABA Therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a known scientific therapy focused on studying behavior to increase helpful behaviors and decrease unhelpful ones. It is a unique type of therapy for your child because it is adapted very specifically to each person. The treatments are flexible and help children understand their behavior. Through ABA therapy, your child will learn how to recognize symptoms of anxiety and learn positive reinforcement for good behavior.
Some techniques used in ABA therapy include:
- Task analysis
- Social skills training
- Positive reinforcement
- Behavior contracts
- Prompting and fading
- Errorless teaching
ABA therapy is primarily used for children and young adults. However, it can also be successful for adults. The concept of determining a negative behavior and giving a reward for positive behavior has been successful for adults. Some examples include overcoming bad habits like smoking, overspending, or even anxiety in adults.
How can ABA Therapy Help with Anxiety Disorder?
Applied Behavior Analysis is a great fit for children with an anxiety disorder because it is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The first step is a very in-depth assessment done with your child. Anxiety disorders can stem from multiple underlying issues or just one. The professional learns about your child’s home life, school life, social life, and specific anxiety issues they have. They also assess triggers for that anxiety.
In ABA therapy, a professional works with your child to find a goal behavior. In this case, it could be to address anxiety issues. Your child may have become more hesitant to go to school or to go to social activities. This can create anxiety that continues to build. The trained professional will work with your child through exercises and activities to find out the root of this anxiety. Then, they will put together a positive reinforcement plan to help your child overcome that specific type of anxiety.
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