This is part of a 2 part series on Anxiety in Children. To learn more about what causes anxiety in children and signs that your children may be experiencing anxiety, visit Part 1.
Now that we’ve identified what anxiety is, how life events can affect your child and signs that your child may be experiencing anxiety, we’d like to delve into the details of what to do next. As we move forward, it is important to remember that some people are just born with a more anxious temperament. So, by nature, you may have a more anxious child than others. However, if that doesn’t seem to be the case, consider ways to help.
Creating a Sense of Normalcy with Structure & Routines
Do you ever notice that you feel more grounded and calm when you know what’s coming up and the expectations surrounding that? Most children do well with a solid daily routine so they know where they need to be when and how to prepare for that moment. It will give your child a welcomed sense of control. A great routine won’t just include what happens during the school day. It will begin from the time your child wakes up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. We’re not saying that your entire day needs to be scheduled out to the exact minute, but should be structured in such a way that your child has a sense of what is expected of him or her. For example, set meal times, establish a regular nighttime routine and of course, play. Preparing your child in this manner will help with relaxation and de-stressing.
Talk About Thoughts and Feelings and Be Respectful of Those
Acknowledgement. Make it a part of your communication. Just as it’s hard for an adult to express themselves, it’s equally or even more difficult for a child. Whether they tell you directly or indirectly, let your child know that you see they are fearful, worried, nervous, etc. and let them feel it. Recognizing that behavior let’s your child know it’s okay to have those feelings without intimidation. Take the moment to be with them. Whether your provide verbal reassurance or hold his/or hand, share a hug, sing, or just be, it’s often comforting and soothing to the child which helps them relax and feel important and cared for.
Be Your Child’s Role Model
It’s surprising what a child can learn by watching; and, they’re eyes are always on you. When your thoughts and emotions show, your child often will take on those same thoughts and feelings. Show your child what it means to be brave and confident and think hard in those moments that aren’t so comfortable and react appropriately. That means putting on that “game face” even when it’s difficult.
Also, take the time to show them how to control their emotions when they start to feel anxious. Teach them to take deep breaths and do it with them. Practice relaxing your muscles and how to use their imagination to help stave off the worries they may have so they can focus in the moment.
If you feel like you need more assistance with helping your child with anxiety, feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. Remember, from here…it all changes!