How Parents Can Help With Child Anxiety | UCLA CARES Center

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hi I'm dr. Diana Santacruz I'm a child

clinical fellow with the UCLA Care

Center and I'm here today with dr. Pat

Santini hi I'm John path Santini I'm a

clinical child and adolescent

psychologist a UCLA professor and

director of the UCLA Center for child

anxiety resilience education and support

for care center so one of the questions

I often have is especially being the

specialists that you are in anxiety what

are some best practices or best

strategies that you have for parents in

managing or raising NHS child parenting

is is critical it's really important and

when we're working with kids and

treating kids for anxiety the parenting

piece often times is more important than

than the work that we do with the

children so kids worry about things like

nobody's going to like me I'm gonna do

bad at school what if I get lost what if

something bad happens and these are

actually pretty common fears that most

kids have and listening to the child let

the child voice these fears and

providing encouragement and context such

that you know most kids have fears like

these these fears aren't that uncommon

can really help the child quite a bit

the other thing that parents can do is

to really focus on the positives so

bring up examples of when the child was

able to manage these situations if the

child says I'm afraid I'm not going to

have anybody to have lunch with parents

can say well last year you had lunch

with Sally and Billy all the time and

they're in your class this year so why

don't you ask them really trying to

teach them and focus on things that the

successes that they've had and things

that they can do and then the third

thing that's most important is parents

really need to pay attention to their

own behaviors for example really common

I do this with my kids even though I

know not to is are you going to be okay

do you have everything are you ready for

your test and we think we're helping our

children but what we're really doing is

making them more anxious so if we're

your parenting an anxious child you want

to avoid asking questions that may make

the child feel anxious we also want to

avoid reassuring our children anxious

children commonly ask for reassurance is

this going to be okay did I bring all my

stuff to school

what if nobody's home when I get home

and busy Arendt's we want to comfort our

children to make them

feel safe when in fact reassurance can

actually lead to worsening of anxiety

instead we want to teach the children

problem-solving and coping so if a child

brings up something that they're afraid

of we want to teach them strategies for

coping and managing those skills like

breathing mindfulness exercises or

simply going through the steps that they

can take to make sure that nothing bad

happens really helpful strategies and I

wonder you know even with this idea of

the worries the parents have how they

can use that information to make sure

that they're not facilitating that or

reinforcing it by trying to do something

opposite you know might resolve and

problem-solve through them exactly but

what about times when those strategies

don't work when might be time for

parents to seek additional support we

also recommend parents seek help if the

child's anxiety increases in frequency

if there are worries or concerns

headaches stomachaches whatever it might

be if they're seeing them every day that

may be a little bit of a concern you

know an occasional stomachache or

headaches or need for reassurance is

okay but if we're seeing days and days

and days when the child is exhibiting

these symptoms that may be a little bit


we also concerned about the intensity of

the fear so if a little child sees a dog

barking across the street it'd be very

reasonable for this child to maybe get

upset or not want to want to cling on

mom for example if the child gets very

upset or anxious about things that used

to not be bothersome like wanting to go

to school for example if the child

Tantrums or cries about going to school

and again this happens repeatedly that

may be another concern as well and if

the child is expressing a fear reaction

or anxiety about things that most people

wouldn't consider that upsetting or

anxious what we would call an innocuous

situation again if the dog is barking

that might be one thing if relatives are

coming over a friend invites a child out

for a playdate there's a birthday party

invitation most people wouldn't consider

these anxiety provoking if the child

starts reacting negatively to situations

like this then we would be concerned and

finally and the biggest issue is

interference if the child's anxious

behavior starts interfering in a

noticeable way with school or

with home life with social life or in

other arenas then it might be time to

seek help well thank you so much for

those really helpful insights dr. Pat

Santini and thank you so much for

joining us today for more information

please visit our website thank you so

much for joining us today thank you