As children grow, they go through several emotional and mental transformations. Some children become too shy to confront another person, while others become too mischievous. However, it becomes difficult for parents to determine their children’s behavior when they react unexpectedly to a particular situation. For example, if your child who seems stressed or unusually afraid, becomes easily embarrassed, or has a constant desire for approval, he or she may be experiencing childhood anxiety. People don’t notice, but many anxiety disorders begin during childhood. Therefore, it’s important to identify the problem and cure at the earliest stage before it takes a dramatic form.
Here are 5 tips to help reduce stress, worries, and anxiety in your child.
Do not be overprotective: As a parent of a child suffering from social anxiety disorder, your first thought might be to avoid the places or situations that make your child anxious. However, by permitting your child to avoid social events, parties, and contests, you are not helping your child with coping skills. Instead, avoidance makes the anxiety bigger and scarier in the long run. The better option is to prepare your child for the situation they are fearing. Discuss and address any concerns your child might be having with a particular event beforehand. Play the game: "What's the Worst That Can Happen?" and go through each of the responses and help your child put them in perspective.
Bring Your Child’s Worry to Life: Role playing or rehearsing situations that make your child anxious will help them find a comfort level. By creating a fictitious character that personifies anxiety and telling you child how unnecessary worries can harm that character will help them understand the scary physical response your children experience when they are worried. It can reactivate your child’s logical brain, and they can use that story as a tool to handle several situations that make them anxious.
Schedule Relaxing Activities: Children need time to relax and have some fun. However, sometimes children take these fun-filled activities, like sports or painting, too seriously. Therefore, it is important for the parents to encourage them to participate in independent activities only for the sake of fun and not for competition. Schedule time each day for your child to play a sport, game, arts and crafts, yoga, or any fun activity and reward him or her for putting in the effort.
Encourage your child to express themself: If your child says that they are nervous or scared, don't ignore. They are legitimate feelings. Discuss what’s happening and validate your child's worries by saying things like "Yes, you seem scared” and have a discussion about your child's emotions and fears. If something within your family is worrying him or her, such as problems in personal relationships, potential stresses from work, or finances, tell him or her that everything is fine and there’s nothing to be worried about.
Encourage good sleep routine: Set a fixed bed time routine for your child and stick to it even on weekends. Sleep, at times, can be the best medicine and treatment for all disorders. When we sleep, our body is in relaxing state. Our mind is refreshed and we get prepared to face the next day challenges. The same thing can help your child reduce all the worries that are troubling him or her. A good night’s sleep is a transition from the activities of the day to the relaxed state which is necessary for a child’s well-being. So have your children follow a fixed sleeping and waking routine, so they can start and end the day with a secure feeling.
The Bottom Line
At the end, it’s important that you love your children and extend your full support to them whenever they need it. Giving them tools to help them cope, is the best thing you can do for your anxious child. They may grow into an adult with some level of anxiety but in most cases. they'll grow out of it or use the tools provided to get through it.
- Contrary to belief, anxiety often begins in childhood
- If your child has anxiety, it is important to confront the disorder with them.