Anxiety can be an overwhelming experience for kids.
If your child is experiencing anxiety, you may be wondering how to help them manage their feelings.
Let’s look at some ways that you can support your anxious child and help them feel better about themselves and their emotions:
1. Offer Your Child Reassurance
Reassurance is a way to help your child feel better and less anxious.
It can be as simple as saying something like, “I know this is hard for you, but I’m here for you.”
Or it might involve hugging your child when they are scared or upset.
You could also help them by telling them that you understand how they feel and that everything will be okay in the end (even if it isn’t).
2. Listen to Your Child
When your child expresses their concerns, listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that their emotions are valid and that you are there to support them.
Here are some tips on how to listen to your child effectively:
- Give your child your full attention: When your child wants to talk to you, put down any distractions such as your phone or computer and give them your full attention. This shows your child that you value what they have to say.
- Be present in the moment: Try to be fully present in the moment and avoid thinking about other things or multitasking while your child is talking to you.
- Validate your child’s feelings: Let your child know that you understand and accept their feelings, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their perspective. For example, “It’s okay to feel sad when things don’t go the way you want them to.”
- Avoid interrupting or criticizing: Try to avoid interrupting your child when they are talking, and avoid being critical of their ideas or feelings. This can discourage them from sharing their thoughts and feelings with you in the future.
It’s important to make time to communicate regularly with your child in a way that is respectful, supportive, and empathetic in order to help them with their anxiety.
3. Give Your Child Time to Calm Down
Giving your child time to calm down is the most important thing you can do.
Let them know that you are there for them, but don’t push them to talk about it.
It’s okay if they don’t want to talk about it right away – they will let you know when they are ready.
If your child does not want to talk at all, be patient and try again later in the day or even on another day.
You may have noticed that some kids just need a little time before they can express themselves clearly – especially if there has been an upset or an argument between family members or friends at school or elsewhere in their life (or even yours).
4. Help Your Child Identify What They are Feeling
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, rather than trying to figure it out on their own or ignore them (this can make anxiety worse).
Help them identify what they do in response to anxiety, such as using humor or avoiding situations altogether.
Then help them find other ways of coping with those feelings that don’t involve avoidance or negative self-talk, such as:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Positive affirmations
- Listening to music
- Asking for help from friends/family members
You can also find someone your child trusts and encourage them to talk about their feelings or worries with that person.
This is an important step in helping your child manage anxiety.
They should feel comfortable talking with this person, who will listen without judgment and help find solutions for the situation at hand.
5. Help Them Identify Triggers
Work with your child to identify the situations or events that trigger their anxiety. Once they understand what causes their anxiety, they can begin to develop strategies to manage it.
Here are some strategies to help identify anxiety triggers:
- Notice physical symptoms: When your child experiences physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, or tension, ask them to think about what they were doing or thinking about at the time. This can help them identify potential triggers.
- Monitor media and screen time: Keep an eye on what your child is watching, reading, or listening to. Certain media or social media platforms may trigger anxiety in some children.
- Consider environmental factors: Think about the environment your child is in when they experience anxiety. For example, is it noisy or crowded? Is there a lot of pressure to perform or conform?
By helping your child identify their anxiety triggers, you can teach them how to handle their anxiety in those situations.
6. Give Your Child Outlets for Expressing Their Emotions
It’s important to make sure that your child has outlets for expressing their emotions in healthy ways.
A great way to do this is by giving them a safe space to talk about their feelings, and explaining that it is okay to feel sad, angry or anxious.
You can also show them how they can express themselves in healthy ways like through art or music (if they enjoy those activities).
If you know that your child struggles with anxiety, then you may want to consider talking with them about what kinds of things cause them stress so that you can help alleviate some of these worries before they become overwhelming for both yourself and your child.
7. Encourage Healthy Habits
Make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats a healthy diet, and engages in regular physical activity. These habits can help reduce anxiety levels.
Children learn by example, so it’s important to model healthy behaviors such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
When it comes to diet, offer a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Involve your child in meal planning and preparation to help them develop an interest in healthy foods.
Encourage your child to engage in physical activity for at least one hour every day. This can include playing outside, participating in sports, or taking a family walk or bike ride.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep for their age. Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age, but most school-aged children require 9-11 hours of sleep each night.
Lastly, establish routines for meals, physical activity, and bedtime. This can help children develop healthy habits and feel more secure and in control.
8. Foster Social Connections
Encourage your child to spend time with friends and family members. Social connections can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Here are some tips to help encourage social connections:
- Provide opportunities for socializing: Organize play dates, family outings, or activities that allow your child to interact with others.
- Support their interests: Encourage your child to pursue activities and hobbies they enjoy. This can help them meet like-minded peers and build friendships.
- Teach social skills: Help your child develop social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and empathy. Role-play social situations with your child to help them practice these skills.
- Respect their preferences: Respect your child’s preferences and don’t force them to socialize in ways that make them uncomfortable. For example, if your child is shy, don’t push them to participate in large group activities.
Remember that every child is different, and some may be more naturally social than others. Encouraging social connections can help your child develop healthy relationships and feel more connected to their community.
9. Seek Professional Help
If your child’s anxiety is interfering with their daily life, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can provide therapy or medication to help manage anxiety symptoms.
Therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for children to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Therapists can help children learn coping strategies to manage their anxiety. These can include relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Therapists also work with parents and caregivers to provide support and guidance for their child’s anxiety, which can improve outcomes and help families better manage anxiety as a team.
Talking about anxiety can help it become less overwhelming for kids.
There are many ways to help your anxious child. The most important thing is that you stay calm and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.
By doing this, you’ll be helping your child learn how to manage their anxiety in a healthy way – and making sure that they don’t feel alone in their struggle!