5 Ways To Help Your Child’s Anxiety
This is about helping your child understand themselves and their anxiety better for them to manage their anxiety effectively.
Take note of any anxiety triggers. When, where, how, what, who (WWHWW) and calmly discuss with your child how they can recognise it, validate their anxious feelings associated, and decide together how they can manage their anxiety. For example, you notice an anxiety trigger when your child can’t decide what to wear, ask them the WWHWW questions, validate their feelings, and arrange together to prepare two outfits with them the night before or look for outfit ideas on the internet together.
Help your child recognise physical and emotional signs that they’re getting anxious, so you can give them techniques on how to manage them and when they should ask for help to manage them more effectively. Anxiety might make them nauseous, shakey, their heart race. Getting them to recognise these symptoms, helps them not get so overwhelmed when they occur and manage them before the symptoms increase. For example, when your child starts to feel panic in their chest, you can teach them how to breathe slowly or leave the situation, making them anxious to calm down.
Explore together (it’s personal to see what helps them) different activities that they can do to express themselves and calm their anxiety down, what they can do when they calm, to control their anxiety and when they are anxious, how to calm down. For example, drawing, journaling, gardening, doing crafts, going for a walk, sport, baking, playing games as a family, speaking, reading. This provides them with a technique to use that can become a helpful habit for their anxiety management.
Create an open communication and relationship for them to have a supportive and safe environment to share their internal struggles if it’s something that is going on with their mental health or any external challenges. When creating space for mental health acceptance, a child feels comfortable getting the help and support they need, allowing them to feel less lonely. This also provides an opportunity for closeness and to be able to manage their struggles initially. To listen and deliver affirmation, as parents, we want to take away their struggles; however, they can see this as dismissal. Take everything they say seriously and calmly.
Make a worry box and calm area together. Doing these types of activities together allows the child to feel in control and supported as anxiety makes them feel out of control. There can be toys and activities that soothe your child in a worry box, and you can even make it portable for different settings, i.e. school. For example, fidgets, a notepad, a teddy, a colouring book, a toy, a calm jar, bubbles. A worry area is their personal private area at home, for them to settle and when they decide to have ‘time out’. There can be blankets, a tent shape, cushions, books, music.
Each child experiences anxiety and presents their anxiety in different ways. Recognising and acknowledging their anxiety, let’s you and your child be knowledgeable about how to help them cope.