Center for Anxiety & Behavioral Change: Rockville, Maryland

Center for Anxiety & Behavioral Change
Rockville, Maryland

 

Parenting an Anxious Child

Parenting a child with an anxiety or related disorder can be confusing and frustrating. Traditional parenting strategies such as reassuring a child when he or she is anxious can serve to reinforce and thereby strengthen the child’s anxiety. Parents often struggle with knowing how to respond to their child’s anxiety, such as when to "push" a child to do something that makes them anxious and when to allow a child to avoid the situation, or differentiating between "real" anxiety and defiant behavior.

Thankfully, a large body of scientific knowledge has identified evidence-based skills and techniques that parents can use to help their child overcome his or her anxiety disorder(s). Many of these techniques are counter-intuitive and involve the use of positive reinforcement to build specific coping skills and redirecting or ignoring specific anxiety-based behaviors.

CABC offers a 6-week parents training group to outline these specific, concrete parenting skills. The group meets for 90-minutes once per week for six weeks. The group covers:

  • The nature of fear acquisition, maintenance, and extinction
  • How avoidance and fear are teammates
  • The nature of the coping skills that are effective in dealing with high levels of anxiety and how to help children to confront their anxiety in a productive fashion
  • The problematic role of reassurance and other safety behaviors and how to minimize them
  • How to identify which behaviors to respond to and which to ignore
  • How to develop a behavioral reinforcement system to assist the child

In addition, the parents in the group learn a great deal from each other, as each parents brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group.