Written by Feba Maryann
Anxiety is something that every child has to face growing up and usually goes away with time. It is completely normal for children to be anxious or worried. So, when should you be concerned? If anxiety starts hindering their everyday routines or work and is affecting their wellbeing then you should start being proactive.
We all have experienced anxiety in some form or the other at some point in time and know that it is totally fine. But when it is our kids that are affected, we respond very differently. Parents tend to be protective and try to get rid of anything that triggers anxiety in their child. However, this only works to aggravate the situation.
So, what can you do to help your child? Here we have compiled some tips to help you deal with the anxiety your child is facing.
Teach Them To Face Their Fears
It is often seen that parents try to remove the stressors that may trigger their child to feel anxious. Yes, it is difficult to see your child being unhappy and scared but remember that the aim is to teach them to face their fears on their own.
You cannot possibly be able to be there with them forever and get rid of any stones that are on their way. There are obviously going to be times when your child will have to deal with such obstacles alone.
Helping them to cope with their anxiety and making them perform as well as they can, will result in the anxiety slowly fading away.
Acknowledge Their Emotions
Your child may be anxious for the silliest reasons, some kids are anxious about visiting a doctor, others may be anxious about going to crowded spaces or may be scared of meatballs maybe. But one key thing to keep in mind is to never belittle their emotions.
Acknowledging their emotions does not mean you have to agree with them. Rather you should let them know that it is okay to be scared or anxious. Make it a point that you’ll be there with them and will help them face their fears.
Everyday try to spend time with them, maybe have a free space where they can vent out whatever they want and you together can cerebrate towards a practical solution.
Set Realistic Goals
If your child is, say, scared of water; you cannot tell them that they’ll never drown as they are invincible. But rather you should let them know that you have confidence that they are going to be okay, that you know they’ll learn swimming. This isn’t restricted to children who are scared of water but was just an example to portray how you can set realistic goals.
It actually is important that you set these goals for anxious children but do not try to force rapid changes. Let them take their time, give them room for error, and support them when they need you.
Don’t Let Them Neglect Their Health
Adults with anxiety tend to skip meals, have disturbed sleep or be insomniac, and sedimentary. The case in kids is no different, your child may become dull, inactive and may have difficulty with sleeping.
Emphasise on taking care of their basic needs, like healthy meals, proper sleep cycle, and a good amount of exercise. Aerobic exercises especially have been found to be excellent mood boosters.
Put yourself in their shoes, try to think from their perspective. When you were younger was there something that made you anxious or scared? Maybe your neighbour’s dog or maybe a bully at school or walking alone in the dark. Think about what you wanted to hear from your parents, what helped you overcome that fear. Use your experiences to help your child.
Dealing with an anxious child could be an exhaustive task, therefore it is important that you look after yourself too. Take breaks, eat well, get proper rest and take the necessary steps to stay calm and collected at all times.
If you yourself are under stress or anxious, this could be a good opportunity to demonstrate how to deal with anxiety to your child. This also normalizes anxiety and teaches them more than your words could.
Your goal here is clear, help them learn how to cope with anxiety. They are the ones learning, this too is a part of their growth and these phases will give them strength to face other obstacles thrown at them at later stages in life.