Anxiety in Children

Anxiety is a common problem for children today. 

I have worked in schools as a therapist since 2012, both in traditional and behavioral schools. Through my very close work with students and teachers, both through individual therapy and with classroom presentation and observation, I see how frequently anxiety occurs - and how it is often overlooked by parents and professionals.

Anxiety in children can look a lot different than anxiety in adults. 

When most people look for anxiety, they expect to see jittery behaviors, shyness, or perfectionism. Separation anxiety looks like clingy behaviors and difficulty with transitioning from home to school. Social anxiety looks like difficulty in forming friendships. But we miss a crucial key in children.

Kids who seem oppositional, angry, or aggressive are often very anxious. 

The Child Mind Institute has a great article exploring how a baseline anxiety in children can often burst out as anger, frustration, and disobedience. Consider how anxiety would lead to these externalizing behaviors. A child with social anxiety gets called out by their teacher for having the wrong answer in front of the class, and decides to run out of the classroom. A middle schooler jokes with friends throughout class and interrupts the teacher consistently, because they are worried that they won't understand the work anyway. A pre-schooler kicks and hits their mother at the beginning of every day at school - because they are too worried to enter the room.

The article continues, "...disruptive behavior is often generated by unrecognized anxiety. A child who appears to be oppositional or aggressive may be reacting to anxiety—anxiety he may, depending on his age, not be able to articulate effectively, or not even fully recognize that he’s feeling."  

If your child or teen in St. Louis is experiencing anxiety, or is getting in to trouble at school consistently, consider taking them in for a counseling assessment. You can email me at compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com to set up an initial phonecall consultation, free to you.

 

Relaxation Skills in Therapy

Relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are critical tools for coping in our stressful world. 

I typically integrate these and other relaxation tools in to any treatment with children, adolescents, and families.

As an adult, even I forget to check in with my stress level during the day.

And sometimes, as that stress mounts, a small annoyance turns in to a huge blow up because I have reached my tipping point. 

So, rather than allowing myself to get to that point, I take small breaks during my day to check in. Are my shoulders all the way to my ears? Let's take a diaphragmatic breath. Am I noticing my palms are sweating or I haven't taken a full breath in a few minutes? I'm opening a new window on my computer to youtube sounds of the beach (this one is my favorite) and really listen to it.

Healthy, successful children and teens have stress, too.

Sometimes, people think stress is an adult issue, and that our children rarely if every experience stress on their own. This, of course, is unfortunately not true. Even healthy and successful children experience stress in their lives.

I recommend you read more about stress in children hereConsider how you can start integrating some awareness to your stress level - and your child's, as well. There are many small steps families can take to lower their stress throughout the day, though it may help to meet with a therapist as well to discuss further. 

If you would like more intervention suggestions or would like to see my mindfulness and relaxation techniques in practice, email me today to set up our first free consultation. 

 

St. Louis Counseling and Recommendations

As a St. Louis-based therapist, I search out resources specific to the area. Many of the therapeutic tools I use with children would be used regardless of my location, but we have such a wide variety of places, people, and agencies that it would be foolish to ignore the many amazing opportunities St. Louis provides to its families. 

Below you'll find a list of some of my favorite things in the Lou:

Best St. Louis Agencies:

  1. Parents as Teachers engages parents in advocating for education opportunities for their children.
  2. Behavioral Health Response Crisis Line, providing assessments for suicidality and self-harm 24 hours a day.
  3. Family Solutions for Kids provides free in home therapy to children in St. Louis County. Several kids of mine have used this in conjunction with the individual therapy services I provide, with great results
  4. Annie's Hope provides grief groups for families and children, and "Teen Retreats" specifically for teens experiencing grief and loss. This would pair very well with any individual grief therapy that I provide. 

Best St. Louis Activities for Kids and Teens:

  1. The St. Louis Zoo - A free zoo, and a great opportunity for families to get out and enjoy one another's company.
  2. The Missouri Botanical Gardens - While there is a fee to enter, they  have a lot of hand's on activities at the children's garden. I also think it's a wonderful place to practice relaxation skills and mindfulness.
  3. The Science Center - Many opportunities for education and family bonding. They also have great hand's on activities for developing brains with their Pre-School Science Series.
  4. The St. Louis Art Museum - Lots of free activities for families and kids, including crafts for young ones and the Teen Arts Council. The TAC collaborates with the St. Louis Art Museum to design activities and installations for other teenagers in the St. Louis area. 

If you are interested in scheduling a free assessment for counseling services, please email me or call (314) 339-7640!