Stress has become an everyday occurrence for most adults. However, children have also began to experience anxiety as part of everyday life. Here are 5 Actionable Ways to Help Your Kids Overcome Anxiety.
Stress and anxiety seem to have become an inseparable part of our lives, and as much as we hate it, they have also started affecting our kids. Studies have found that a good percentage of children and adolescents face stress and anxiety too, just like us, and if you too, have a little one that’s struggling with it, here’s something to help.
Being a proactive parent is important and dealing with a child that has anxiety issues means you have to think outside the box. Read on to discover 5 actionable tips and tricks to help you handle your kid’s anxiety in a much better way.
Face the Fear
It is important to teach your children to face their fears, rather than run away from them. Instead of removing them from situations that provoke his anxiety, try to teach him to face those situations in a better way- the human body has a system that does not allow anxiety to remain for long, so eventually, your little one will learn how to deal with his anxiety. Helping them get through it in a “safe environment” may help them be able to face it later on if they have to do it on their own.
My daughter has a huge fear of big cities and recently we went into NYC together. We went together with her older cousin because we know how much she looks up to her and knew that having her get through this stress would be huge for her. At first she was very stressed but as we continued to do fun activities through the day she realized that in safety there were no issues and she actually had a great time. We made sure and spoke to her about everything and planned low stress activities (As low stress as can be expected in the city) and eventually she was asking to do more and even come back. We also chose a Saturday when the city is a lot emptier. This can’t be the case for all situation but sometimes facing the fear will help make a huge difference. Especially when the fear is unfounded or without cause.
Whenever your child faces his fears or does something he didn’t have the courage to do before, make sure you acknowledge his act and reward it- even if it is in a small way. Treat this little reward as more of a motivator and less of a bribe- it should be just a little something to encourage and motivate your little one.
Focus on the Positives
As a parent, remember that anxiety is a part of who your kid is, it does not define your kid at all. Just like any other human being, your kid too, has positives to himself, and make sure you highlight and emphasize those and boost his morale. This will not only strengthen your bond with him, but also help him overcome his anxiety better.
A lot of times, kids tend to develop anxiety because they are expected to be perfect and excel at everything. Make sure you don’t load too many expectations on your kid and embrace his imperfections and mistakes just as you do yours.
My second oldest is also very tough on herself when it comes to academics. She worries if she doesn’t perform perfectly we’ll be mad. I’ve made it a point to explain to her that as long as she tries that’s all that matters. I’m not perfect, nor do I expect my children to be. The important thing is that they develop a love of learning and most important not feel the need to excel for us but for them.
One of the best ways to tackle anxiety is to open up and speak about it. Sit down with your little one and talk about the time you experienced anxiety yourself, and how you managed to get over it. Also make sure you establish a healthy communication channel with your kid- that way, it’ll be easier for him to approach you during the times he experiences anxiety.
We’ve really opened up a lot of dialog between my 10 year old. She has a very low frustration tolerance and there are times her anxiety overcomes her behavior to the point where it makes everyone miserable. It becomes an ugly cycle because we get mad with her for acting out and she gets frustrated and acts out more.I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure I listen to her when she’s frustrated and to watch for cues. I especially make sure to talk to her about it
Encourage Mindfulness and/or Prayer
Stress and anxiety can be best treated by practicing mindfulness and meditation, and if you haven’t tried it already, now’s the time to do it yourself and include your little one too. Being mindful can help you (and your kid) feel more in control of your emotions and can help tackle anxiety attacks better. If you’re a religious person prayer can help overcome some anxiety as well. There are many studies that support this theory.
This is one thing my daughter does to help her when we’re not around. Many times when my daughter feels the most stressed or anxious she has a medal of St.Philomena (the saint of the impossible) she carries around to help her keep control. She also has a few prayers she does whenever it becomes a bit much for her to handle.
Children will experience anxiety and like I said before it can become a big part of their lives. Practicing some of these tips may be extremely helpful in giving your child the necessary tools to help them overcome anxiety and panic. However, if you feel that it becomes to much or there might be other underlying issues going on with your child, make sure and speak to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns.
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