Anxiety And Defense Mechanisms

Kids and teens are actually experience anxiety a lot because they face new things every day, and have yet to develop strategies to relieve anxious feelings. If children became adept in facing anxiety as they grow up, they develop and adopt desirable defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms are responses meant to maintain emotional integrity. However, not all defense mechanisms help maintain emotional integrity for long-term.

Note: This piece can be useful and informative for adults too, so keep reading.

Anxiety is a normal part of childhood growth

As children grow they always encounter new situations time after time that can easily be a source of anxiety, just as how adults feel when faced to new and foreign things. Anxiety is a normal part of life that must be faced and handled properly for good emotional development. There are many sources of anxiety for children. Children face anxiety at home duties, schoolwork and social relationships.

Children tend to acquire anxiety-relieving strategies from someone who is with them most of the time. This actually makes caregivers compulsory role models in teaching children how to face and handle anxiety productively.

The manners and actions people do in an effort to control and handle anxiety are collectively termed as ‘defense mechanisms’. There are desirable and undesirable defense mechanisms. Children must learn to face anxiety from adults so they can develop desirable defense mechanisms by the time they become adults.

However, children and teens may engage in less desirable defense mechanisms. They do this since they may not have learned the ‘proper’ defense mechanisms yet. Children may engage from time to time doing these defense mechanisms such as:

  • Daydreaming:

A child or teen who is unpopular in school may daydream that he or she is attractive or popular. Daydreaming seems to be a common mechanism to avoid painful or unacceptable feelings.

  • Identification:

A child with no singing talent whatsoever may admire or imitate Elvis Presley. Identification can be a defense mechanism to a person who has feelings of inadequacy.

  • Regression:

An older sibling may start crawling instead of walking, after the birth of a younger sibling. Regression is somewhat common to children facing unacceptable feelings of anxiety.

These occasional defense mechanisms are normal in children and teens, and will resolve over time. Therefore, parents must not make a fuss on their children exhibiting these temporary behaviors.

Well, what are the desirable defense mechanisms adolescents must develop by the time they turn into adults?

These desirable defense mechanisms are considered a mark of maturity. These defense mechanisms are termed desirable because they are not pathological, do not cause problems in relationships and are not out of touch with reality.

Here are some desirable defense mechanisms adolescents (and adults) must develop as they turn into adults:

  • Altruism:

A person facing job instability devoted more time volunteering in a community day-care center

  • Anticipation:

Upon hearing the news of retrenchment, a clerical worker begins updating resumes and sending job applications.

  • Humor:

A talent, after tripping on the stage in front of the audience, finished the performance and later went into the backstage and laughed with the stagehands regarding unfortunate incident.

  • Sublimation:

Upon hearing of failing to secure a job promotion, she began to spend more time and effort with her present work.

These defense mechanisms are not easy to do in face of anxious situation. As emotionally-healthy children grow, they gradually adopt these mechanisms and discard less effective and desirable ones.

When anxiety in children and teens become abnormal

Children and teens may suffer silently from anxiety disorders since they could not adequately explain what they are feeling, and because they may not elucidate the same symptoms as in adults. They may resort to defense mechanisms that may damage relationships or cause long-term damage to self, like distortion, aggression and displacement of anger, in an effort to control anxiety. Other unhealthy forms of defense mechanisms include unconscious repression of thoughts, denial, and projection of one’s faults to other people.

When a child has an ongoing anxiety problem, he or she badly needs support and understanding from parents and experts like psychologists. In many cases, a family together seeking help has better chances of success since the treatment will be applied holistically.

Find more useful information about anxiety here at NATURAL ANXIETY REMEDIES.

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