A significant part of our population indicates that they have experienced any psychiatric problem at some or all of their lives. Anxiety disorders are one of them. The first symptoms of anxiety disorder observed in children are ‘specific phobia’ and ‘separation anxiety’. These are followed by ‘selective muteness’ and ‘performance anxiety’. Although these disorders are thought to be easily treated when examined one by one, many treatment methods actually cause these disorders to change shape. If we plan a treatment for the needle fear of a child who is afraid of needles as a specific phobia, the child’s needle fear will disappear within 8-12 sessions. However, the possibility of recurrence and disfigurement (for example, fear of the dark) is a very strong possibility.
We all know that raising children is the hardest and most virtuous job in the world. In many cultures, children are thought to be innocent and sinless, but are they really sinless? What is the cause of these behavioral disorders in children?
Genetic transmission is one of the first and most important causes of behavior in children. Each mental health professional takes detailed information about the personality and childhood periods of the child’s parents while evaluating the child. As a matter of fact, the incidence of ADHD in parents of children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is quite high. Another similar case applies to anxiety.
The results of my individual observations and literature reviews draw attention to the genetic transmission of anxiety disorder in children. Anxious mother is more effective in this process. The common features of most of the anxiety disorders (separation anxiety, specific phobia, performance anxiety, panic attack, etc.) I saw were that they came from an anxious mother.
Although children have genetically inherited anxious structures, most of the anxiety can be reinforced by learning. If the child grows up in an anxious home when he is born, and if his parents are often worried (especially the mother), it would be wrong to expect these children to grow up calmly. Because the child will realize that this is normal by constantly seeing fear from his family.
If I have to make a conclusion as a clinician; Anxiety is learned both genetically and by modelling. In this article, I would like to share what can be done as a behavior to my readers, since genetic transition is not an area that can be prevented too much and can benefit my readers.
Those who feed their children with vitamin pills so that they do not get sick all the time, who have problems because they cannot solve a problem, who take extreme care not to have the slightest nutritional problem, who have extreme problems when they follow their sleep with the clock and do not comply with it, etc. Mothers like these set a very good example for anxious mothers.
I think the worried mother is praised in Turkish society.
– ‘Oh, I don’t know motherhood on top of Ayşe’s motherhood. A perfect mother and daughter Fatma is a wonderful girl; she doesn’t get a bad grade, she is a decent, moral girl who knows how to sit and stand up, does not fail to respect elders, and cooks well’.
Here is a well-bred girl according to Turkish society. When we look at these examples, we can all see how well-bred Fatma is, but no one paid as much as Ayşe Hanım for this. Because she had great difficulties until she raised the perfect child. Although She tried to raise this child, she was left with only what she tried to do. Because no child can be perfect!
The desire to raise excellent children and the desire to be excellent parents (especially mothers) are very much in demand in our society. I think that the main reasons for this are our own shortcomings. I often observe the efforts of parents to make up for the deficiencies that they cannot find in their own parents in an exaggerated way.
Before looking at the image of the anxious parent, it should not be overlooked that the worried parent was also raised by a parent. It is not only the parents who are responsible for the events. In addition, today’s stress and environmental factors are another factor that will increase people’s anxiety level.
Of course, trying to be a perfect parent is not a malicious behavior, but it is an attitude that cannot be done. As a matter of fact, the desire to be the perfect son is also expected from children. Hence the comparisons. Especially aren’t there those comparisons that hurt people the most? ‘Look at Ayşe’s daughter, how good I wish you were like her’. Unfortunately, this attitude will greatly lower the child’s sense of self and make him wonder if I am a useless person. Will there be any work out of my hands? How can I please my parents? am i valuable? He will begin to ask questions such as:
As a result of these attitudes, the child will not only have negative feelings about himself, but also negative attitudes and behaviors towards his parents. This can lead to behavioral disorders (eg aggressive attitudes), which I will describe in another article.
Attitudes often result in anxiety. I met many mothers who never wanted to leave their children but did not even realize it themselves, and these mothers often applied to me with the complaint, Mr. Emin, that my child does not want to go to school. In most cases, my observation was that mothers never gave their children the opportunity to leave them. Children do not want to be separated from the mother because they are not securely attached to the mother, and this is observed for the first time when they start school around the age of seven. The child does not want to leave his mother and go to school. He cries for this and clings to his mother. Almost all of us have observed this attitude. The child does not want to face separation anxiety from his mother and often states that he does not want to go to school.
In recent years, the deterioration in the education system, in addition to the fact that families give more importance to academic performance, triggers the increasing performance anxiety in children and adolescents. Families see their children directly as race horses and engage in exaggerated training. But the human soul is not a machine. The desired performance cannot be achieved with commands such as study, memorize and learn. In other words, children must first be psychologically ready to study.
University exams give us the answer to how wrong these attitudes are. The number of students who take the exam in university exams increases every year, and the number of students who score zero and fail to pass the threshold is also increasing. University scores are declining. However, children spend less time with their friends and socialize less. Here, the psychological pressure on children and the effect of psychological factors should not be overlooked.
Therapy will vary according to the child, family, age and opportunities. While familial (verbal) therapy is very important in children aged 3 to 10, it should be structured in such a way that it is less important between the ages of 10 and 15 and not as much as possible in children over the age of 15.
In some divorced or lost families, it can be difficult to find a father or mother figure. The choice of therapist is very valuable here. In my opinion, it will be useful to work with the figure that the children need. However, there is no rule that this will always be the case.
Unfortunately, one of the most painful aspects of our country is that a significant part of the population cannot benefit from therapy fees. In most cases, children are provided with medication. Medication is a form of treatment that I never recommend to be used in children unless possible (it may be essential in ADHD, autism, etc.). Psychiatric treatment and psychotherapy should be carried out together, and it is recommended to discontinue drug therapy as soon as possible. Drug therapy is an important issue, and it is strongly discouraged to be used or discontinued outside of a child psychiatrist.
The intervention that should be done in most children is to take the child to therapy together with the family (especially the mother). Child-centered play therapy and verbal therapy choices as therapy types will be very useful.
It should be noted that since the child is not yet an adult, it is unlikely that the therapy to be given to the child will be successful unless the family or the environment in which the child lives is changed. Even if it is achieved, it cannot be expected to be permanent.
The formation of the personality and the spiritual structure of the person are related to the genes carried and how the childhood passed. Just as we pay attention to the physical needs of our children, we should also pay attention to the spiritual development of our children. There is no problem or problem child. As in every individual, certain problems will be observed in every child. In this case, you should not be alarmed and support from a mental health professional should be sought.