Parenting: How You Can Support a Child Suffering from Anxiety
Parenting is one of the toughest endeavours to take on. This is especially true when you’re the parent of a child who suffers from anxiety.
Yet, raising a well-rounded and emotionally intelligent child is completely doable.
Some people don’t fully understand that children of all ages can experience anxiety. Plus, it’s not uncommon to assume that children express anxiety in the same way that adults do… which they don’t.
As a parent of an anxious child, you know full well the depth of emotions your child feels. Helping them to regulate those emotions will be a challenging feat.
However, here are a few tips to help you support your anxious child.
Establish Clear Expectations
Although it might be tempting to require less of your anxious child opposed to any other (and non-anxious) children, try to be even-keeled. Meaning, do your best to set clear and balanced expectations for your child.
Naturally, there will be a unique level of understanding and possibly different benchmarks for each child. Yet, clear expectations help all children—those struggling with anxiety and those who don’t—to know their limits. Which, in turn, creates a safe and secure environment.
Address Rather Than Avoid the Anxiety
While it may be easier to avoid situations that make your child anxious, this will only sidestep the problem. In fact, avoiding the issue will possibly open the door to more anxiety (or mental health) issues in the future.
Your best bet to help your anxious child is not to sweep the issue under the rug. Face it head on the best you can by proactively supporting your child. Talk about how they feel. Help them to identify their fears and hesitations. Prepare them for situations that could cause them anxiety.
Addressing anxiety will validate your child and help you both to find positive solutions to overcome it.
Have Brainstorming Sessions Together
When it comes to anxiety, the main driver is that it can easily feel insurmountable. To a child, this is as if they’re climbing a mountain backward wearing 100 pounds of extra weight—seemingly impossible.
Plus, often, even your best efforts of telling them not to worry may simply not help alleviate their anxious feelings.
Instead, tackle their worries and anxious thoughts one at a time. Sit with your child and brainstorm, finding positive solution-based strategies that will help to ease the worry. And make your problem-solving endeavours specific to the situations in their life. It will help them to transform these solutions from words to actions.
Help Strengthen Their Toolbox
Along with the brainstorming sessions, be sure to teach your child healthy coping skills.
Obviously, at this point in your child’s life (unlike adulthood), you’re not dealing with distractions such as alcohol or drugs. Yet, children have their own set of escapes tactics and paralleled vices.
To ensure your child has the tools they need to cope with anxiety, review strategies such as deep breathing exercises, mindset reframing, using a stress ball, journaling, etc. These skills will serve as healthy distractions to redirect their body and mind from anxiety to a calm state.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Lastly, remember that anxiety gets worse when self-care lags. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking enough water, getting exercise, playtime, and downtime, etc.
Your child’s overall wellness has a large influence on the level of anxiety they feel. Furthermore, better than anything else, appropriate self-care can empower your child to handle the emotions and sensations that they experience.
Do a check-in with your child and review their routine. Make changes when you notice something is imbalanced. By bringing self-care to the forefront, you’re also enabling them to overcome anxiety.
Dealing with anxiety can be incredibly challenging, no matter if it’s your own struggle or your child’s. Please reach out to me on (07) 3282 5453 for help in overcoming this condition.