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How Can I Help My Daughter With Anxiety?

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Updated: May 11, 2019

How to help children with anxiety

My 10-year-old daughter is exhibiting signs of social anxiety. As a parent, it worries me...big surprise, since I am anxious :) What can I do to help her overcome this?

There are four things you can do to help your daughter:

1. The best way to help your daughter overcome her anxiety is to deal with your anxiety. You can do this by learning as much as you can about anxiety using self-help materials, and then working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist to help you discover and successfully address the underlying factors of your anxiety.

Children learn their anxious behaviors from their parents, from one or both. When parents address their anxious behaviors, they can help their children learn healthy behaviors, too. Since children often are influenced by what their parents do, they are more eager to make healthy change when they see their parents use healthy behaviors. Children also learn faster when parents model healthy behavior.

2. A second way to help your daughter is to find an anxiety disorder therapist who is experienced in helping children overcome anxiety. Unfortunately, this often is a difficult task because good child therapists are hard to find. While many child therapists claim to be able to help children overcome anxiety, we’ve found that many use strategies that aren’t effective, and in some cases, can cause more harm than good.

But it is worth the time and effort to find a good child therapist. Your daughter could make good progress as the therapist helps her address her anxiety issues. If you like, Marie Sherwood, recognized for her work with children, would be a good choice. You can find out more information about her by clicking on her link.

Often, child therapists involve the parent(s) in some sessions, too. This helps both the child and parents make healthy change. When children get help for their anxiety issues and their parents don’t, children have a harder time making healthy changes because their parents model unhealthy behaviors. That’s why addressing your anxiety is beneficial, because it provides many benefits including:

  1. Because of what you learn, you can help your daughter learn healthy behavior, too.
  2. As you become healthier, your daughter will see healthy behavior modeled, which will be easier for her to learn since she will see what healthy behavior looks like.
  3. As you become less anxious, you will relate to your daughter in healthy ways. This will put less pressure on her and what she thinks of herself.
  4. As you learn to deal with worry in a healthier way, she will become less of a worrier too.
  5. Low self-worth is almost always at the root of social anxiety. Children often develop low self-worth because their parents typically struggle with low self-worth issues, as well. As your self-worth improves, you will be able to help your daughter improve her self-worth, too.
  6. As you learn to relate to yourself, others, and the world in healthy ways, your daughter will learn to do the same.

Even with just these six points (there are a great many other benefits), working through your anxiety issues can have a positive impact on your daughter, her character development, her self-worth, and how she relates to others.

3. A third way to help your daughter is to get some good resources on how to help children overcome anxiety and worry. There are a number of these resources available. As you become knowledgeable about anxiety, you’ll be able to weed out the good books from the not-so-good.

Your child therapist can also help with recommendations for good books.

4. If you decide to self-help your daughter at this time and she still exhibits anxious behaviors when she is older, she can always enter into therapy herself when she is older. While addressing anxiety early is the best approach, addressing anxiety at any age is much better than not addressing it at all. And addressing anxiety in the mid to late teens years is still considered early.

For example, even if your daughter at 17 addresses her anxiety and works with a therapist for a few years, she is still well positioned to live a full, normal, and non-anxious life.

Adolescents at this age learn and internalize quickly. This also is an important stage in their lives. Learning to live healthy at this age can produce numerous benefits, including having healthy relationships and living a more rewarding and fulfilling life.

There is, however, at least one caution in waiting to address your child’s anxiety until later in life. There is a possibility that her education could be affected. Anxiety affects self-regulation, which is located in the lower parts of the brain. This foundational area can influence higher areas of the brain resulting in issues with processing and concepts, which are pivotal to learning. It’s always a good rule to deal with children’s issues in childhood where they are so much easier to resolve.

Marie Sherwood can also help you address any concerns you might have about possible educational struggles.

Yes, there are many things you can do to help your daughter deal with her anxiety. Taking action now can have a profound and lasting benefit.

NOTE: This information is just a brief glimpse into some of the things parents can do to help anxious children. We are in the process of setting up a child division with the sole purpose of helping parents and children prevent and address anxiety issues. Please watch for these developments to come in the near future.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including how to help a child overcome issues with anxiety.