Many people tend to think of anxiety as something that is only experienced by adults. Families, money, and relationships may be things that fill parents with anxiety but your little ones may have stressors that fall along the lines of school, feelings of inadequacy, or even animals. Your child’s anxiety, while seemingly borne from harmless things, is just as real and possibly staggering as any adult’s, which makes managing it in a safe, healthy way extremely important. Check these simple, but important, tips for a little help with helping your anxious little one.
1. Don’t Ignore The Root
It is important not to ignore or avoid things just because they make your child anxious. While it is true that ignoring the root of the issue may make both you and your child feel better in the moment, it doesn’t do much to help prepare for the future. Teach your child to confront their fears in a healthy, productive way by exposing them to things that make then worry and stress and giving them giving them the proper tools to manage and overcome their anxiety will help them much more in the future.
2. Let Them Know That Their Feelings Are Valid
If your child feels like their anxiety, and the causes of it, are inconsequential or outright “stupid,” they may be less inclined to share it or deal with the problem in a healthy way. While it is important not to overly reassure your child with non-helpful platitudes it is crucial that they know that their worries are not completely unfounded. Let them know that you understand their fears and remind them that you are there to help them work through their feelings. Make sure your child knows that they don’t have to be ashamed of their anxieties.
3. Have Realistic Expectations
As a parent, it is only natural that you would try to solve your children’s problems but anxiety isn’t something that can be fixed overnight. If your child has anxiety due to a specific stressor, like school, or just a general anxious disposition, it is imperative that you help them work through it without the expectation that it will completely disappear with a few heartfelt talks. Your child’s anxiety may drastically decrease over time with proper management, but it is likely that it will take a while. Don’t stress your little one out even further by expecting them to “get over it”.
4. Use Relaxation Exercises
Things like deep breathing and meditation may seem silly sometimes, but they work to easy our everyday anxieties more than you’d think. Designate some time for you and your child to relax together without the presence of the television or other electronics. Teach your child relaxing breathing exercises and simplistic meditation techniques, while these activities won’t completely alleviate your child’s anxiety, they will do wonders for helping them learn how to calm themselves on their own in the long run.
5. Teach Your Child To Examine Their Thoughts
Even as an adult, a large part of effectively managing your anxiety comes from being able to properly examine your thoughts and manage your feelings. Children with anxiety, in this regard, are no different. Teach your child how to properly discern the cause of their concern (ie: I’m afraid that I’m not good enough to play soccer), how to compose arguments for and against that concern (ie: Negative: I’m not the fastest runner. Positive: I get a log of goals.), and how to challenge their perceptions.
It is extremely important that your child understands that their feelings are valid and not unfounded, but also learn how to properly work through those feelings of sadness, fear, and worry. You won’t always be by their side to make everything better, and sometimes, even when you are, you won’t be able to. If your child gets the tools to properly understand and manage their own mind early own, they will be better for it in the future.
If your child’s anxiety seems insurmountable, never hesitate to contact a doctor.