Does your child always seem anxious or nervous? Are you afraid that he or she isn’t happy? Whenever children are anxious or afraid, they can be unpredictable. Sometimes they can act out with aggression or hostility. Sometimes they exhibit signs of depression. Some children have an attention-getting behavior. You may feel overwhelmed since anxious children are difficult to read.
You CAN learn how to help kids with anxiety! You can learn how to read their behavior and how to help them.
Here are signs and symptoms of anxiety with children:
• Frequent crying or sadness
• Decreased interest in activities that they used to find enjoyable
• Low self-esteem
• Low energy and persistent boredom
• Frequent complaints of headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, and flu-like symptoms
• Increased irritability
• Poor concentrating
• A major change in eating patterns
• Talks of self destruction
• Social isolation
If your child demonstrates any of these symptoms, you must try to teach them skills that will help them manage anxiety in a healthy way. They should not hide away from the world. Some children with anxiety do go outside with other children, but they express aggressive behavior. You need to be a good role model so that your kid understands the differences between appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior.
Here are some tips on how to help kids with anxiety:
• Train them with positive talk. Kids need to learn how to talk to themselves in a positive manner. They need to not only learn how to talk to others; they also need to learn how to talk to themselves. Usually, children with anxiety problems have low self-esteem. Teach them positive affirmations such as “I can handle anything!” and “I am brave enough to do anything!” They need to reprogram their minds to think positively rather than negatively.
• Instead of punishing them whenever they do something wrong, reward them for the things they do correctly. Kids respect themselves more whenever they know that they did a good job on something. Nagging at them whenever they make mistakes will only make things worse. Sit down with them and encourage them to try harder. Tell them that you believe in them.
• Whenever a child starts to have an anxiety attack, have them to take deep breaths for a few minutes. When they don’t breathe deeply, not enough oxygen gets inside of their bloodstream and they can feel dizzy or numb. Breathing techniques will help them stay calm. It might take a few hours for the physical symptoms to go away, but they will eventually.
• Help them find a distraction so that they can focus on something other than their anxiety. If you’re out in public and they start to panic, try distracting them with a toy or changing the subject to something that they like. Be sure to tell the teacher(s) to help your child find a positive distraction whenever he/she starts to exhibit anxiety related behavior at school.
• Writing can be very therapeutic. Give them a special notebook or journal and tell them to start writing things that bother them. On the opposite page, they should make a list of things that they enjoy. When they are finished with their diary entry every day, have them to take the “worries page” and throw it away. Let them feel as if they really are throwing all of their worries away. They should only keep the list of things they enjoy, and should go back every now and then to reread the list.
• Many children experience social anxiety. This goes beyond typical shyness. If your kid is afraid to talk to his/her peers, start a rehearsal session. Let them practice talking to you as if you were a peer. You could also arrange for them to meet with peers in a safe place, such as a park or daycare center. Encourage your kid to go up to other children to say “hi”. However, you shouldn’t force them to do something if they don’t want to. Gradually expose them to situations involving other kids, and offer encouragement along the way.
Knowing how to help kids with anxiety can give you a peace of mind. You can help build their self-esteem!
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