Dear Dr. Bill,
Our 9-year-old daughter suffered through a couple weeks of “silent treatment” from her closest friend but never told us there was a problem. Then she started pulling the hair out of a spot on her head, and I realized how anxious she was about the situation.
The friend problem was solved with a simple apology, but in discussions with my daughter, she opened up about many “what if” worries — things like my husband and I dying, major disasters, and so on. As a result, we immediately made some changes at home — limiting her access to TV news and arranging evening snuggles with me to talk and pray about life.
But the problem showed up again last week after a sleepover . I’ve struggled with anxiety myself, so some of it may be genetic. What do you suggest?
Some of us are simply wired to be more susceptible to depression or anxiety. And as you mentioned, psychological issues like those are often inherited.
Most anxiety disorders can be effectively treated by a form of counseling known as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The therapy involves learning to identify dysfunctional thoughts that contribute to anxiety or depression. Then the person is taught how to to challenge those thoughts, replacing them with more accurate, realistic thoughts. This can lead the elimination of harmful behaviors and negative emotions. From a theological perspective, this fits well with the biblical concept of “renewing our minds.”
To get you started, I’d order the book “Stress and Your Child” by Dr. Archibald Hart. If you follow the steps outlined by Dr. Hart, you should see some improvement in your daughter’s level of anxiety. If not, I’d suggest you consult a child psychologist or child psychiatrist.
Thanks for writing Kim. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.