“4 Ways To Help A Child With Anxiety” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional.
Sometimes our children can start to struggle and we don’t even realize why or what is going on. When they cry because they hurt themselves, you put a bandaid on it and give it a special kiss. When they hear something they don’t like or get upset because of children at school, you reassure them and make them feel good about themselves. Anxiety, something that attacks the thought process and emotions, is often something that is difficult to spot and fix immediately. It can be hard to handle at first, but anxiety is becoming more common among our younger generation.
With that in mind, here are some of the things that you could do to help your child if you feel they are getting anxious over situations or life in general. (And if you are an adult suffering from anxiety, these tips might help you too!)
Help them sleep at night
One of the first things to think about would be how much sleep they are getting. A lot of the time anxiety can present itself at night, when your mind is racing and there isn’t much you can to alleviate the thoughts. If you can, encourage a good bedtime routine and consider something like a weighted blanket for extra support in the night. Anxiety can also be heightened during the day when there is a lack of sleep from the night before. Placing focus on getting a good nights sleep consistently could really help reduce the symptoms your little one is experiencing.
Find alternative methods to help them
Adults with anxiety may often choose to try medication, but some parents want to try to avoid that option for as long as possible. It may be worth seeking out alternative methods to see if they can help your child dealing with anxiety. This might be counselling sessions, or even more recently animal focused therapies that can be proven to help. For example, equine assisted psychotherapy where looking after the horses and being involved with them can really help a child to open up and discuss the issues they are facing. Another idea is to use the “STOP” sign method. When they are in a calm state, help them create their own STOP sign index card. Use something they can put in a pocket(so it might need to be smaller than an index card). Ask them to pull out this card when they start having anxious feelings or negative thoughts and ask them to think of something that makes them feel happy instead. Read more about this idea here.
Talk with them & don’t forget to listen
A big thing with anxiety is the need to talk. As parents while we may be around to talk to our little ones, sometimes we can fail to listen. I’m guilty of wanting to jump in and make things better for our children as fast as possible. Sometimes just listening and taking a step back is what is needed for your child to really allow everything in their mind to come out. It might not be hard on your heart to hear how your child is feeling, but knowing the full story will help you better come up with a solution to help alleviate the symptoms.
Teach them to recognize signs & triggers so they can overcome it
Anxiety is often triggered. It could be a feeling, a situation or something that they fear that can bring on the symptoms of anxiety such as panic and increased heart rate. Teaching your child to understand what causes them to feel anxious will help them recognize the signs and situations. It isn’t always about avoiding things, but knowing the trigger can allow preparation ahead of time, or at least to be able to handle it better.
Remind your child they are not alone and they are loved. One of the best things my parents instilled in my heart during childhood was just knowing I was loved. It made facing tough situations or feelings more bearable even into my adulthood. This is what I’m hoping I am doing for my kids. Knowing you are not alone in a struggle and can reach out to someone for help, this can help make anxious situations tolerable.
Dear Reader, if you are dealing with anxiety and other mental health struggles, you are not alone. There are millions of circumstances happening right now to millions of people facing anxiety. Also, keep in mind there are an estimated 1 in 4 kids that are dealing with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues.(Check out Child Mind Institute for more information.) Do you know those kids grow up and I’m guessing that means there are 1 in 4 adults in the US that also deal with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues? I’m one of those people. If you are too, you are not alone! (And the US isn’t alone in this. Our friendly Canadian neighbors even have a great resource website just for anxiety… http://anxietycanada.com/) Hope this information is helpful! Please don’t ever think you are alone or unloved. That’s a big fat lie. I may not be able to personally help each individual that happens upon this blog but I write and co-write out of love to help anyone that wanders into this little tiny speck of cyberspace. Hoping this helps you, and you pay that love forward to anyone that crosses your path as well!