Anxiety in children is a growing concern today; more and more children experience what to them is intense fear or worry brought on by negative thoughts that to children who are not anxious would be of inconsequence. These thoughts may be something as simple as giving an oral book report in class, but the thought brings on such strong fear in the child’s mind that physical symptoms often appear, such as a racing heart. Once the child realizes that they feel something physically wrong, they often don’t connect that physical sensation with the worrisome or frightening thought that caused it.
Does biofeedback work, and will it benefit your anxious child? Many people, both adults and children, have used biofeedback with great success. This process can help with the mind, body, spirit, and emotions and for children who have problems with social issues because of anxiety.
Biofeedback is Often Successfully Used to Treat Anxiety in Children
There are many methods of treatment that doctors and psychologists use to treat anxiety in children, some effective and others not so much. Many doctors choose to prescribe medications to treat children with anxiety, ADHD and other conditions. While these prescription medications may seem to help, most simply mask the underlying issues.
Since anxiety begins as a negative thought in the brain that is perceived as frightening or stressful, biofeedback proves to be an effective treatment. Simply put, biofeedback is a non-invasive technique that increases relaxation in children and helps them learn to better control the thought process which affects both mind and body. This technique has been used successfully not only for anxiety in children, but also to reduce asthma attacks, symptoms of diabetes, and migraine headaches.
Children enjoy feeling comforted and more relaxed and having some of their anxiety reduced; by learning how to gain control of their thoughts and therefore their lives, biofeedback is often such a positive experience for children that they look forward to sharing their experience with others.
Anxious Children: Learning to Focus Their Thoughts in a Positive Direction
For those who aren’t certain about how biofeedback works, it is a technique that strengthens the mind, much like therapy or exercise strengthens the body. Through this technique, children learn to control their minds and how to concentrate for extended periods of time. When children learn and participate in mind control, it allows them to focus negative thoughts in a new, positive direction or fixed location. This helps the child gain control not only of negative thoughts and how to focus them in a different direction, but also his behavior and will as well.
During the process, electrode sensors are placed on various areas of the body so that heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, brain activity, and other functions can be monitored. A state of relaxation is then induced so that your child can actually see the changes in their body as tension and stress are introduced through issues that are perhaps troubling to your child.
Once people see how anxiety makes their bodies react, they can actually visualize the changes when they become tense or frightened. After this phase, biofeedback involves a therapist teaching your child how to reduce their own anxiety and tension through refocused thinking, deep breathing, and muscle relaxation techniques.
After completing a number of sessions, your child will be able to relate the connection between their thoughts and how their body reacts; in short, they can learn a new behavior and control their thought process, gradually eliminating the negative or “anxious” thoughts that cause physical symptoms and disrupt their lives.
Will Biofeedback Work for Your Child?
While there are no guarantees that any type of medication, therapy, or counseling will work for every child, biofeedback has been proven successful for many children who suffer from anxiety disorders. In fact, children are often better candidates for biofeedback therapy because they do not yet have the established thought patterns and pain reactions ingrained into their minds that adults do.
The benefits of biofeedback for anxiety in children are many. Not only can most children learn to focus their thoughts in a new direction thereby reducing anxiety and helping them live happier, more productive lives, increased self-esteem, and confidence also result. Your child will sleep better, have a more positive attitude, and grow up to be a happier, well-adjusted teen and adult.
Biofeedback is often used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Think of biofeedback therapy as exercise to make your child’s mind stronger, allowing them to replace negative thoughts that cause anxiety and social fearfulness with positive thoughts that allow them to lead the joy-filled, happy life children deserve to enjoy.