Anxiety in kids can be troublesome for those who love are care for them. When children are anxious, it's natural to shield them from harm. But without meaning, to well-meaning parents can make the anxiety worse.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay
Here are some things that parents can do to lessen anxiety in kids and forge the road for a lifetime of confidence and self-assurance.
1. Do not avoid the thing that makes your child anxious
Anxiety is a natural part of childhood. Like teens and adults, children feel anxiety over things at effect their emotional well-being.
A pop quiz, an intimating classmate, or trying to fit in with friends are all anxiety producing. The problem comes when these fears controls your a child's thoughts and actions.
Anxiety does a great job of making worries and fears seem larger than they are.
Unfortunately, shielding kids from what they deem scary people may only help in the short-term.
Allowing your child to avoid his or her fears reinforces avoidance as a coping mechanism and weakens the belief that anxiety can be conquered.
2. Acknowledge your child's anxiety, but don't empower that anxiety
It's vital to validate your child's anxiety without building up the fear. Say dental anxiety is high on the fear scale. How do you ease the fear without making it worse?
Be empathetic and help your child to understand what the anxiety is all about. Is the primary concern pain of getting that novice injection, having a tooth pulled or a cavity filled?
Encourage your son or daughter to express the source of stress. Repeat that you'll be there for them to soothe those anxious moments.
3. Express positive realistic expectations
It's also important to express realistic expectations. Obviously it would be unrealistic to tell your child that he will always do well on tests or that another child won't make fun of she.
But you can help your child feel that he is going to be okay and be able handle whatever life throws their way.
4. Inquire without asking leading questions
Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings without asking leading questions.
Examples of leading questions.
-"Are you worried about giving that oral presentation in class tomorrow?"
-"Are you feeling a little anxious about the class trip?"
Instead, make those questions open-ended.
So, instead of asking: "Are you worried about giving that oral presentation tomorrow?"
Try saying something like,
"So, how do you feel about giving that oral presentation tomorrow?"
Taking this approach by phrasing your questions differently will help lower tension and help your child examine their feelings instead of focusing on the anxiety.
5. Think things through
The fear of not knowing how the future plays out will often feed anxiety.
So allow your child to worry about the future. But in a controlled and constructive way.
In other words give them three things, time to worry, a worry journal and an timer.
Allow them to set aside a specific period each day to sit down and worry about all the stuff that's bothering them.
Give them a journal, or empty composition notebook, to write down all of these worries, negative thoughts, frustrations and fears.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and tell them to write for this time without stopping. When the timer goes off. That's it. Have them put away the notebook and save the rest of the worry for the next day.
The most common anxiety disorders among children are
-Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which can affect kids ages 6-9
-Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
-Panic Disorder which affects kids ages 8-12
If left untreated, these anxiety disorders can continue into adolescence and ultimately adulthood.
I hope this article, "5 Steps to Soothe Anxiety in Kids," helps you on your journey towards better mental health.
Bright Skies Are Ahead,
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This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.
I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health.
This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being.
This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.