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May 19, 2020

How To Ease Anxiety In Children

If you’re in the trenches, trying to figure out how to handle anxiety in your child, you may come across a lot of information that can simply overwhelm and exhaust you.

The thing is, you won’t be able to ‘fix” your child because there isn’t a magic spray to help with the situation.

What you need are some tools to help attend to your child’s needs during their anxiety episodes, and luckily, I’ve got some for you today.

In this article I’ll go over some of the basic ways you can help your child manage anxiety, what anxiety looks like in children and healthy ways to tolerate anxiety with children.


Anxiety In Kids

Children can experience anxiety even if the parents have done everything right in the parenting process.

Anxiety can stem from things that happen at school or other activities where the parents are not around, and it's almost impossible to shield them from it.

Did you know that anxiety is actually a survival instinct reaction when our bodies or minds are faced with a threatening situation? That definition can be a little bit confusing because it sounds like fear more than anxiety doesn’t it?

Our adrenaline starts pumping, and our bodies and minds are getting ready to escape danger, even if the danger is not visible, like walking through a dark tunnel and getting butterflies because you feel like you’re not alone. This is how anxiety is triggered.

It's a really tough thing to go through for both the child and the parent. After all, no parent wants their child to suffer with anxiety.

The great thing is, not all hope is lost. There are things we can do as parents to help guide our children through these difficult moments of life.
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What Does Anxiety Look Like

Anxiety can pop up in children as young as 3 years old.

Physical anxiety can show up in the form of young kids who cannot explain their true feelings can complain of tummy aches or headaches, even if they appear to be physically alright.

If your child who loves to eat suddenly stops eating his lunch at preschool or daycare, then there might be some anxiety popping up.

Other times, it could show up in the form of restless, fidgety, hyperactive, or distracted behavior in an otherwise calm child.

Emotional anxiety is a little more tough to recognize, but not impossible. Children who normally do not cry a lot can start to cry and appear to be very sensitive.

Children can also start to be afraid of future events such as starting second grade while they are in kindergarten.

To really find out if your child is experiencing anxiety and find out what is causing it, you’re going to want to take notes and track your child’s behavior.

If you have access to a school counselor, it might be wise to share these notes with them so you can work together with your school to solve the situation.

Your school counselor will be able to let you know if this is something you should look into deeper at this time, or hold off and keep watching the behavior and see what happens.

Photo by Hunter Johnson on Unsplash
Managing Anxiety

Luckily there are things you can do to help manage anxiety in children. It’s a bit of a tricky situation because it’s very difficult, impossible really, to completely eliminate anxiety, but management is a great option.

None of us want to see our children face sadness, but the best way to relieve anxiety in children is not to eliminate the trigger, but to know how to handle it when it comes into their path.

Over time, the anxiety will decrease and fall away. Yay! Here are some things you can do to manage the anxiety:

Respect The Feelings They Feel

When your child is going through an anxious moment, you must respect that their feelings
are real and very upsetting. Trying to diminish feelings and even brushing them off is not going to help your child not feel those feelings.

Let your kids go through those feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety and more, even if it’s difficult for you to see as a parent.

The good thing is, you can talk to your child about those feelings and create some pretty deep connections just by validating those fears.

Talk Things Out With Your Child 

When you let your child feel their feelings, and talk it out after the trigger wears off and the child calms down, you should discuss what happened. Being able to create these conversations is going to help you understand your child, which will help you help them with their behavior problems.

Avoid Asking If They Are Anxious

Sometimes, anxiety can be triggered if we ask our children if they are anxious about an event. For example “Are you anxious about your first day of school?” can trigger the anxiety that your child was not feeling before the question was asked.

Healthy Ways To Tolerate Anxiety

You can help your children handle their anxiety by letting them see how you cope with anxiety yourself.

Because children are perceptive, they will see when you cannot handle stress and anxiety in difficult situations and will start to behave the same way you do. It’s kind of like a monkey see, monkey do moment.

Children are like sponges aren’t they? 
I’m definitely not saying you need to pretend that you don’t feel anxious or stressed.
I am saying, you should be careful how you handle your anxiety because your children are watching. Practice calm, and celebrate any moments that you “get through”, especially when they were difficult.


Final Thoughts

Anxiety doesn’t have to be a scary thing. All of us experience anxiety at many different points in our life.

The difference is, how we handle the anxiety that our children are facing.
In young children, the anxiety may be more difficult to spot, but when you do figure out that the child is facing anxiety, you can manage the situation right away.

When anxiety is present in teens, the behavior management is more difficult to handle, but not impossible. Keep track of the behavior and involve the school if you must. The important thing is to pay attention and keep trying to have a conversation with your child.

Remember to allow children to feel their feelings, and comfort them when they are feeling anxious.

Many thanks to Elizabeth for this guest article.



Author bio: Elizabeth is a mom of 2 and has a passion for helping children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive parenting. Check out the blog www.tiredmomsupermom.com 
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