Everyone experiences anxiety, even children. Some stress levels are actually necessary to develop survival skills, and while feeling anxious from time to time is completely normal, some children have higher levels of anxiety than others. Our first instinct is to comfort our kids, however, we need to teach them how to cope with their emotions in a healthy way. Supporting a child with anxiety isn’t an easy task but it’s certainly not impossible. In this article, Tiniciti Preschool will share some insight on how to help support a child with anxiety.
If you think your child’s anxiety is out of control, contact a healthcare professional for support.
You Won’t Eliminate Anxiety, Only Manage It
It’s important your child knows what’s happening to them and why. Usually, anxiety is the manifestation of fear of what we can’t control, like the future for example. It’s understandable if you try to make sure your child is happy at all times. However, the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isn’t to try to remove them from situations that trigger it. Instead, you need to help them learn to manage their anxiety and function in spite of feeling anxious.
Don’t Try to Reason While They’re Anxious
When kids are feeling anxious, it’s almost impossible for them to listen to what you’re trying to say. An anxious child feels natural fears amplified and for a longer time. Anxiety manifests in physical and emotional ways, don’t try to reason with them at this point, they’re too agitated to listen. Breathing exercises, reassurance, and comfort are some of the things that you can do to help calm down your child. When they calm down, it’s easier to communicate with them. Once you know how to identify an anxious episode, it’s easier to manage before it escalates more.
Don’t Downplay Their Fears
We like to feel understood by our parents. There’s nothing worse for a child suffering an anxiety attack to listen to adults downplaying their fears. Dismissing your child’s fears (no matter how irrational they might be to you) is not helpful at all. Validating their fears doesn’t mean you’re empowering them. For example, if your kid is afraid of going to the doctor, you can’t tell them their fear is irrational nor can you agree with them. Instead, let them know that you understand where the anxiety comes from and remind them that you’re there for them.
Praise Their Progress, Encourage Them
Always let your child know that you truly appreciate the work they put into managing their anxiety. When we let out kids know that they’re doing a good job taking care of their emotions, they feel encouraged to keep doing it. Staying calm during stressful situations isn’t easy, not even for adults. For this reason, we believe that recognizing your child’s effort whenever you can is one of the best things you can do.
If your child’s anxiety is interfering with their daily lives, it’s crucial you take them to a healthcare professional.