More and more children are being diagnosed with anxiety problems and as an adult, it can be hard to know what you can do to help your child or a child you are close to. That is why today we are looking at a few ways on how to help children with anxiety.
It can be really hard for parents who have a child who does suffer from anxiety. You want your child to come with you somewhere but there is something about it that makes them nervous, they have a breakdown, you lose your temper, you feel bad, they feel bad and it can be tough for everyone.
Do Not Dismiss What They Are Worried About
When your child is suffering from anxiety and they are really worried about something be it getting on the school bus, being in a crowded room or whatever it is that sets their anxiety off.
The easy thing is to tell them that there is nothing to worry about and move on. That is not the case though. The reason for this is that deep down your child knows that there is nothing to worry about, but the way that anxiety affects the brain throws all their rational thought out of the window.
Stop Doing What You Are Doing
As frustrating and inconvenient as it can be, stop doing what you are doing, the thing that is bringing on their anxiety attack. Just stop and take a moment, take deep breaths with your child. You take one, they take one. Keep doing this together until they are starting to calm down.
This is their body reversing what the anxiety attack has just done. Deep breathing is the first step to helping a child who is having a bout of anxiety.
Empathize With The Child
“Do not be silly, there is nothing to worry about” are two of the worst things you can say. Like we said, you do not want to just dismiss their fears. Instead, let them know that you get it, you understand their anxiety and that it is scary.
The fact that you understand and get what they are going through is going to go a long way to help them calm down and also see that you are not just going to get mad with them, but that you are there to actually listen and help them.
Talk About It – How To Help Children With Anxiety
Once your child knows that you get it, talk about what it is that made them scared. It could be getting on a train with too many people, being in a crowded store, no matter what it is. Talk about it with your child, but only once they are calm. You will not be able to have a rational conversation with them while their anxiety has taken hold and in all honesty, it is not fair to the child to even try to.
Help your child figure out solutions to the problem. In the example of the train, maybe you could try getting on the train slowly and standing somewhere that is not as crowded? Do not just give them a list of your own ideas, let them come up with ways too that can help them.
We All Make Mistakes
Parents who do have children who have anxiety all end up “losing it” one time or another. We love our kids, but we are all human at the end of the day and it can get too much for us.
If you do ever shout at your child, try to let go of the guilt that you feel. Apologize, say that you will help them beat their anxiety and they can help you too. We all make mistakes and dusting yourself off and learning from your mistakes is the way to go.
Do Not Hide Them From Everything That Causes Their Anxiety
While the easy option is, of course, to just avoid anything that causes their anxiety. For example, if they do not like crowded places, you avoid them. However while in the short term this keeps everyone happy, it is not going to help your child in the long run and can have consequences when they are adults.
Now there is no need to grab them by the hand and take them to the park if the park is what causes their anxiety. Instead, you should set them little goals. One day you can just walk to where the park is, the next you actually walk through the park, the next day they can sit on one of the swings.
Just let them get little victories and let them come to terms with the fact that there is nothing to worry about.
Give Lots Of Praise
If you have never actually experienced anxiety yourself, you have no idea what a horrible feeling it is, you can amplify this feeling for a child! That is why it is so important to give them a hug, a high five, a fist bump or whatever to make sure they know that you realize what an awesome job they are doing and that you are super proud of them.
Anxiety is so hard to deal with and you want them to feel proud of themselves when they do face it and overcome it, even if it is in a very small way.
If you know that certain situations are likely to bring on their anxiety then plan for it. Let’s use getting on the train as an example. If you know this is something they struggle with then take your time and in general try to plan ahead as much as possible.
Rushing around like a maniac is only going to make things worse. Allow yourself extra time to go places if you know that your child is not keen on them.
Above all else, you want to make sure that your child knows that you are there for them and that you are going to help them with their anxiety. It is not going to be easy and even when you think you have a handle on it, something can set it off. You just have to keep at it and help them, help themselves to overcome their anxiety.
We hope you found our how to help children with anxiety article useful. Please share as knowledge makes this world a better place. You may also be interested in: