Do you know a child who suffers from anxiety or stress? Anxiety issues in children come in many forms: separation anxiety, social phobia, post-traumatic stress, manic-depressive disorder, and a panic disorder. Anxiety attacks are frightening enough for adults, and even more so for children.
You can really help your child by providing support and comfort. Let them know that you have faith in them, and that they can have faith in you. You should learn to recognize the symptoms of an anxiety attack so that you can offer immediate aid.
Signs of Anxiety Issues in Children
• Shortness of breath
• Complaints of aches and pains
• Nightmares or insomnia
• Refusal to go to school
Children deal with anxiety in different ways. Some are extremely shy and don’t want to interact with others. They’re too afraid to go to school because the thought of being alone with other people makes them sick to their stomach.
Some children act aggressively. They throw tantrums and get in fights with other kids because it’s the only way they know how to release the nervous energy.
There is also the issue of separation anxiety. Children with separation anxiety become distraught whenever they are separated from their family. They don’t like being left alone at home, nor do they like to go to school or camp alone. The mere thought of being separated from their parents or caregivers gives them a lot of anxiety.
You can learn to relieve anxiety issues in children. Here are the steps you need to take to help them overcome their anxiety.
1. Talk them through their irrational thoughts. The thoughts that arise out of worries and anxiety are usually irrational. Help them to understand that their worries won’t come to pass. In order to help them understand, you must be understanding yourself. Talk to them calmly. Don’t raise your voice or order them to “get over it”; you’ll only make them feel worse.
2. Find a way to distract them from their fears. If they are in a room full of people and start to have an anxiety attack, have them focus on the wallpaper pattern or the music. If they’re at the doctor’s office and start experiencing anxiety, have them focus on the magazines. At home, distract them with their favorite toy or cartoon.
3. Establish a regular schedule at your home. Daily routines reduce anxiety and consistency emphasizes predictability. Nervous and anxious children don’t cope well in a disorganized household. The routine should be followed by everyone in the home, including you.
4. Encourage the child to face his/her fears a little bit at a time. Gradual exposure therapy involves an individual confronting a phobia in a controlled environment. Introduce their phobia to them a little bit at a time. If they experience general anxiety, try to get them to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Challenge them to try something new on a regular basis.
5. Help them to learn relaxation techniques such as autogenic relaxation, muscle relaxation, visualization, and affirmations. Whenever they start to feel scared or worried, they should use visual imagery to reduce stress. They need to imagine a peaceful setting and put their focus on the imagery. While visualizing this peaceful place, they should take deep breaths through their abdomen.
6. Teach them to change their unhelpful thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I’m useless. I’ll never understand this”, teach them to think “If I keep practicing, I know I’ll get better!” Positive thinking can reduce anxiety levels in children.
7. Reassure your kid often that you are proud of them, no matter what. Many children are anxious because they are afraid of letting their parents down. Remind them that you will always be proud of them, and that you trust in their abilities. This will help build their self-esteem. With high self-esteem, their anxiety will be reduced.
Follow these steps if you want to help a child with anxiety and fear. Anxiety issues in children CAN be overcome if their parents or caregivers provide them with encouragement and support.
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