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How to Help a Child With Anxiety, According to a Delaware Expert

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Realizing your child may be suffering from an anxiety disorder is never easy, but this Delaware program offers guidance.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more 40 million adults each year, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Most people with the condition don’t seek treatment, and parents of kids with anxiety might not even be aware that their child is suffering.

Angelica Montalvo Santiago, Ph.D., who specializes in pediatric psychology at Jewish Family Services Delaware and helped establish the Youth Anxiety Program, helps parents learn what to look for, such as when a child:

  • Finds it hard to focus and complete work.
  • Is not sleeping well or complains they cannot stay asleep.
  • Is not eating properly (more common among teens).
  • Has increased outbursts or tantrums that seem “out of nowhere.”
  • Is going to the bathroom more frequently.
  • Is clingier or seems to fear leaving home or leaving a parent.
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“I often tell my patients and parents that it is OK to not be OK,” Santiago says. “It is better to talk through issues than bottle them up.…It is important to have open conversations because kids pick up on more than we know.” Need help? JFS Delaware’s eight-week Youth Anxiety Program, which launched earlier this year, offers a safe space for children ages 7 to 13 to unpack, understand and challenge anxious thoughts.

“The program is great because kids are able to sit together and hear from others who are experiencing similar struggles,” Santiago explains. “It helps them to know they aren’t alone.”

Call 478-9411, ext. 306, for more information and locations.

Related: A Delaware Arts Center Helps Families Through Its Mental Health Initiative

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