It can be very difficult to watch your child experience the day to day struggles of life. Just like adults, children often feel anxiety as they navigate life’s ups and downs. While it may not be possible to completely remove the stressors from your child’s life, teaching your child to deal with anxiety in a healthy way is invaluable.
Children react to stress in many different ways, including:
The easiest way to help your child overcome anxiety is to help them learn how to deal with situations that might not be ideal.
Often, children do not feel in control of their own lives, or might feel overwhelmed by the daily activities and events that they experience.
Simply showing your child some relaxation techniques might be enough to help them overcome stress, however, some children need very focused, intentional strategies in order to control their anxiety.
First of all, it is important to talk to your child and help them realize that you are here to help.
Sit down in a calm location, and simply have a conversation with your child. As you talk, your goal should be to learn what is causing your child’s anxiety, so you can best help them to relax and enjoy life without stress and worry.
Some questions that might be helpful as you talk with your child:
Talking about a situation is very helpful to children, and helps them name their own fears and worries.
To further encourage your child to recognise what is causing them anxiety, you might want to share about what causes you stress and makes you anxious.
Explain how you overcome that stress, showing your child that you understand how they feel and it is possible to move beyond anxiety.
If talking through their anxious feelings is not enough to help your child feel at ease, there are many relaxation techniques you can teach your child.
Help your child focus on deep breathing, imagining calm and cleansing thoughts as they breathe.
Focusing on past successes and good memories can help your child refocus their anxiety, as these images are very calming.
Your child can focus on calming images when they are stressed, or they can utilize a stress-relieving tool.
There are tools for reducing stress available in stores, such as squeezable balls or fidget devices, but you can also work to create do it yourself stress-relievers with your child.
Creating these tools in itself can be relaxing and allow you a chance to talk with your child.
Some ideas for DIY stress-relieving tools:
It can be very helpful for smaller children to draw their feelings. Give your child plenty of paper and crayons, and ask them to draw a picture that shows what they fear might happen in a situation.
These drawings can give you a bit more insight into your child’s thoughts, as it is often difficult for younger children to put thoughts into words.
No matter how you choose to help your child overcome their anxiety, simply being available for your child is the first step in helping them live full, healthy, happy lives.
However, if your child’s anxiety is preventing them from participating in activities that other children their age typically enjoy, seek advice from a health professional such as your GP or a psychologist who works with children.
Sometimes, someone who is ‘outside the emotional bubble’ of your family can offer qualified advice and proven strategies that you and your anxious child can implement when things get a bit tough.
© 2017 Kids First Children’s Services
If your child is anxious and you would like to learn more about how Kids First Children’s Services’ psychologists can help, please contact us on 9938 5419 or send us a confidential comment in the box below.