Does your child have anxiety or panic problems? While all kids have phobias, not all of them suffer from anxiety attacks. Children with anxiety disorders have unreasonable fears for which there is no rational explanation. Whenever they get over one phobia, they will find another. As a parent or caregiver, you would probably do just about anything to help them.
Well, you can help them! You can learn all about kids phobias and the problems they cause for children with anxiety disorders.
What are children afraid of?
Younger children can be afraid of things which aren’t based in reality, such as ghosts, witches, and monsters. Older children are afraid of things and people that can cause them and their parents physical harm. Teens are usually afraid of school, bullies, relationships, peer pressure, and so on.
What kind of anxiety do children experience?
Children of various ages can also experience post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, and social anxiety. Now, social anxiety isn’t merely “shyness”. A lot of shy kids still manage to do well in school. Kids with social anxiety are too afraid to even go. They feel physically ill whenever they are forced to go.
Children display their anxiety or fear in different ways. They can throw a temper tantrum, cry, complain of sickness or tummy aches, cling to their parents, or freeze. Some even have selective mutism. They may talk at home, in an environment where they are comfortable, but not in other places such as school. Some are afraid to say anything when they are around people other than close relatives.
How can you help them?
In addition to extensive therapy with a qualified child psychologist, there are things that parents can do to help as well. You can help your child open up to you about his/her phobias.
Here are some tips on how to deal with anxious, fearful children and their phobias.
• Let your kid see you as a trustworthy person. They’re not going to share their fears and worries with you if they think you will talk down to them. Let them know that you accept them completely, and that you will take whatever they tell you seriously. Remember: no matter how silly their phobias might seem to you, you should still accept that they are real in the eyes of your child.
• Try “play therapy”. This is often taught in professional therapy sessions, but parents can still participate as well. Children sometimes have difficulty verbalizing their fears and feelings when directly questioned. Involving them in a game or storytelling session will give them the opportunity to express their feelings indirectly. Give them complete control of how the storytelling or game goes.
• Teach your kid coping skills. Teach them how to “be brave” and think positive thoughts. You can also talk about the times when you yourself had to be brave. Read positive books about children doing brave things and living happily ever after.
• If your child admits to being afraid of something specific such as dogs, schools, or elevators, you can begin to expose him/her to that fear in a safe setting. Show him/her pictures of dogs, schools, elevators. Go to the park where there will be dogs running around. Go stand outside of school doors or elevator doors until he/she starts to get used to it.
• If your child experiences separation anxiety, you need to keep your goodbyes short. Don’t make a big deal out of leaving. Wait until they are distracted with something and slip out of the door. If it’s your child who has to leave in order to go to school, be sure to let the teacher know about his/her anxiety disorder. Ask that the teacher create a warm welcome for your child.
• Is he/she afraid of the dark? Then you can make the dark fun! Play fun games like flashlight tag. Hang glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. Have a treasure hunt. Also, don’t allow your child to watch or listen to scary television shows or news programs before bedtime.
Even if you don’t understand kids phobias, it’s still important that you accept them. Try to get your child to open up to you about them, and do whatever you can to encourage him/her to be brave.
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