Tips on How to Deal with Childhood Anxiety
Childhood anxiety, can feel overwhelming for both the parent and the child, but it is definitely treatable. While visiting a mental health expert is the best course of action, there are things parents can do at home to ease the child’s anxious thoughts.
The foremost thing to remember is that the goal is not to eliminate the triggers from the children’s lives but to manage their emotional responses to the trigger. If in the course of helping children, we set out to remove the triggers what we will be unintentionally teaching children is not coping, but avoidance.
Instead we should focus on teaching them how to function even with anxiety, or managing around the trigger. As a by product of that, the anxiety will automatically reduce.
1. Don’t Say That Their Fears Are Unrealistic
Instead express hope and believe. If Sheena is anxious about not doing well academically or being rejected by her peers you cannot promise her that those things may not happen, because they actually may and if it does, the anxiety increases while her trust decreases.
2. Talk About Their Anxieties
Don’t let their anxieties be the pink elephant in the room. Talk to them about it, question them. Opening up a conversation with, “What would be the worst thing if you actually failed the test?” will not only help them open up about their feelings but might also help them make a plan for the future.
3. Encourage Them to Focus on the Present
When they worry about what may happen, ask them to focus on what is true for the present moment. Rihaan might be worried that his friend won’t speak to him, ask him what does his friendship look like today.
When you bring them back to the present, you alleviate their tendency to get anxious over things which may not have any base in reality and instead you teach them to be more mindful.
4. Ask Them To List Down Their Anxieties
Encourage them to write out their anxious thoughts. A lot of times, children with anxieties often bottle up their feelings in the worry of not worrying anybody else, or sounding stupid, or maybe they are just shy and not comfortable with sharing such thoughts.
They can either keep a journal, which will help them see how they’ve faced issues in the past, over time, or they can just write out stuff and tear it out which will help with the expression and make them feel relief when torn.
The point is to get out the worry from their system.
5. Motivate Them To Practise Self-Compassion
Teach them self-compassion by practising it. When you beat yourself about small things which happen to you throughout the day, like forgetting your keys or being late for meetings in front of your child, it teaches them to do the same.
They are unintentionally passed on the message that if I am not perfect, it’s bad; that they should be perfect.
If you let go of debilitating negative self-talk, you’ll teach them to do the same; to know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Remember they’ll always learn what you do.>