10 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Their Anxiety
Children with an anxiety disorder may worry endlessly or be filled with such dread that they feel sick or begin to avoid situations. When symptoms of anxiety interfere with a child’s ability to function throughout the day, it is probably time to seek help from a medical professional. Here are things a parent can do to help their child learn to manage their anxiety.
Children feel safe when they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Keep the routines in your home fairly predictable but also allow for some flexibility so your children learn to adapt and adjust to change. When change in a routine is necessary, make sure to explain ahead of time what the change is and give them time to adjust.
Your children will feel safer knowing that you are there to listen without judging them. Ask questions to find out what is scaring your child so you can find strategies to overcome the fears. Never dismiss the fears or tell them to not worry; instead, acknowledge their fears and provide information to help them understand what is going on and why they are safe.
If your child has social anxiety and will be going to a birthday party, talk about it before going out the door and provide him or her with some reassuring information, such as what children he or she already knows. You can role-play different situations so they don’t seem so new and frightening.
This might be listening to music, drawing, reading or finding other ways to help relax. Talk about what types of activities he or she can do when feeling anxious about an upcoming event.
Look for ways to simplify life, for example, can you cut back on the number of activities your child participates in each week? Can you set aside one night a week for movie or game night? Sometimes the pressure of school and activities are too much and a slower pace of life may help lessen the anxiety.
Many times children perceive parent’s and teacher’s expectations as much harsher than they really are. Your child may be setting unreasonable expectations and expecting perfection. Let your child know that effort counts more than results and that you will still love them, no matter what.
Understand the signs of anxiety and how it can impact a child’s life. Be aware of how your child exhibits symptoms, for example some children may become whiny and clingy, others may withdraw. The more you understand about anxiety disorders, the better you can support and encourage your child.
Anxiety symptoms can increase when your child is tired or hungry. Set up soothing bedtime routines to help your child get to sleep and have healthy meals and snacks.
Regular exercise has been shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety. Make sure your child is going outside to play or, on days he cannot, use indoor exercise, such as the exercise games on popular video games.
If your child is having trouble in school, talk with her teachers and guidance counselor. Make an appointment with your pediatrician. Seek out the help you need to help your child live a happy life. Work together with your child to come up with strategies, such as deep breathing, that they can use no matter where they are. And always let your child know that you love him or her no matter what.