According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, around 14% of American children have an anxiety disorder. Parents must learn what to do and what not to do when their child is coping with any mood disorder.
Children with anxiety issues have trouble in social, school, or family networks. They often feel anxious or nervous when they’re away from their parents, alone, or in unfamiliar places. They think that their reactions are excessive or unreasonable.
Anxiety can negatively impact your child’s life and overall quality of life. To combat the worries children with anxiety have, parents need to know how to support their children. It should be in a way that will not only help them but do so in a way that will not exacerbate their anxiety.
Read on to learn everything you should know about anxiety in children and what to do and what not to do when supporting a child who suffers from anxiety.
Encourage Them to Tolerate Their Anxiety
Helping children tolerate their anxiety requires patience, understanding, and clear instructions. Parents should explain the situation to their children and encourage them.
First, remaining calm while listening to the child’s concerns is essential. It can be helpful to normalize the feeling, so they know what they’re feeling is normal. It is also vital to help them recognize the triggers that cause their anxiety. It can help them learn to recognize them and start to make changes.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective way to help children manage their anxiety. The therapist can work with the child to understand what triggers the fear. They can teach them coping strategies to help with their triggers.
Additionally, avoid avoiding situations that make the child feel anxious. Avoidance leads to worse anxiety and provides the child with false security. Instead, teach them to practice relaxation techniques and help them to think about more positive things.
Parents can also use tools like fidget rings to help their children overcome anxiety. You can use a fidget ring as a safe and simple way to provide tactile input to help a child focus and reduce their anxiety.
Ensure that when your child uses fidget rings, they are under parental supervision. Parents should get proper instructions on using it, as it can backfire if misused or kept too close to the mouth. When using a fidget ring, it’s essential to keep it from becoming a distraction. It should not replace more interactive activities used to de-stress. Parents should ensure that using a fidget ring is part of a larger strategy to manage anxiety, such as providing calming coaching.
Express Positive Expectations
When expressing expectations to a child with anxiety, it is essential not to make it seem like you are imposing pressure to perform. Instead, focus on the child’s strengths and help them set realistic goals for success. Encourage children to talk about their worries and be available when they need to cry or discuss their feelings.
Remind children that mistakes are part of the learning process and no one is perfect. Furthermore, practice positive self-talk. It can help reassure your children about their abilities and self-worth.
Respect Their Feelings Without Empowering Them
It is essential to respect a child’s feelings when dealing with anxiety. You should not belittle them or deny the existence of their feelings. It will not make them feel any better and could worsen the problem. Instead, validating their feelings and providing a reassuring and supportive presence is best. Providing guidance and support can help children manage their anxiety, but it is essential not to be overbearing.
Furthermore, it is necessary to create a safe, calm environment for children and model healthy coping skills. It can also be beneficial to normalize anxiety and emphasize that everyone experiences anxiety to some degree. Ultimately, the best thing we can do for children experiencing anxiety is to listen, support, and provide reassurance.
Education is Key
Parents should take the time to educate their children on anxiety and what it feels like to be anxious. If necessary, parents can provide visual support. They can use charts or diagrams to help increase their child’s understanding. Parents should also provide a safe and calming environment for their children when they become overwhelmed.
Avoid Asking Leading Questions
Leading questions can make a child feel as if you are manipulating them. Instead, it is essential to talk about the child’s feelings, allow them to express their concerns, and provide support and comfort. When talking to a child, listening and letting them communicate in their way is essential. You should make them conform to a variety of expectations.
Avoid asking questions that suggest any urgency or pressure, as this could worsen the child’s anxiety. Making the child feel seen and heard instead of interrogated is essential in helping them manage their anxiety.
Parents should not argue with their children about the presence of danger, nor should they become too judgmental. Instead, take an active approach, and seek professionals who can help.
Another critical thing to remember is to focus on the present and remember that panic and worry are options but not the only ones. Encourage your child to practice mindful activities and engage in positive thinking whenever they can.
Keep the Anticipatory Period Short
Anticipatory anxiety occurs when a child experiences distress or fear in anticipation of a future event or situation. It is essential to identify when a child is experiencing anticipatory anxiety and then quickly address the issue.
Parents should also avoid participating in activities that create too much anticipation for the child. For example, if the child fears a doctor’s appointment, discuss it only a few days in advance.
Help Your Child Deal with Anxiety by Giving the Right Support
Parents should be empathetic to their children and provide support regarding anxiety. Encouraging positive thinking and activities while avoiding criticism or overreacting is key. Children will feel more secure if parents stay in touch with their feelings. Make sure to listen and provide relaxing activities that are fun and engaging.
These steps can help your child cope with anxiety and reach their true potential. Make sure to try out these tips and monitor the situation.
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