Taking the Time to Talk with Your Anxious Child

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA

Are you noticing that your young child has recently become more afraid of things, developed phobias they did not have before or is running to you with every small issue they come across?

Maybe your child has suddenly become terrified of thunder or catastrophizes situations that you and I may not even think twice about, such as believing a small crack in the wall creates worry that the entire house is going to collapse. This is normal and it does not always mean your child is going to develop an anxiety disorder! As children grow, they can become hyper-vigilant of their surroundings. As they begin to discover their growing independence, they can become fearful of the big world around them. The good news is there
is a simple way to address this.

Logic and communication.

Children occasionally need a lesson in logic. Their imaginations can be quite large, and their thoughts
can often race in front of ours. Telling your child things such as “not to worry” and “you are safe here!” sometimes will not cut it. Children need to understand how the big world around them works! Let them ask questions and try your best to answer them. If you do not know the answer yourself do a little research or watch a video together with your little one. There are great and kid friendly video’s on YouTube that explain what exactly thunder is and why it is not something to be afraid of or all the safety
precautions that go into building a house to keep us safe.

These are just a few examples, but any worry, fear or phobia your child comes to with will be best
answered by asking them if they have questions, doing our best to answer those questions and showing
your child that you are knowledgeable and their protector.

Remember that this type of behavior is normal and natural, and most importantly, that you are doing a
great job!


About Shelton Piland:

Day to day life can be exhausting, stressful and anxiety inducing. It is easier said than done to “enjoy the little things in life” when we have so many outside pressures weighing on us. When we feel overwhelmed by these pressures our mental health and personal relationships can suffer. Shelton hopes to assist you and yours in managing difficult times and strengthening your relationships.

Shelton is a Resident in Clinical Social Work and will be providing services in the Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. She received her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system, as well as with veterans and their families at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. She is certified in Motivational Interviewing and in Inter-Professional Collaboration. Shelton has experience working with individuals, children, couples, families, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, and hospice patients.

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