When your child suffers from anxiety, it affects you as a parent just as much. Parents want to protect their child from anything that bothers them. However, this can be debilitating to the child, especially if they suffer from anxiety. These tips below are sure to help.
Don’t focus on eliminating their disorder, focus on managing it. Figure out what makes your child anxious, and try your best to eliminate whatever may be causing it. If you cannot eliminate it entirely, try to help them find ways to deal with the challenge better. For example, if your child is anxious about their first day of school, talk to them about it and maybe take them to their class and meet their teacher with them before the first day. Little things like this can help lower your child’s anxiety levels about a certain event and can maybe even eliminate their anxiety about it entirely.
Doing this will make the problem better in that moment, but will only increase the problem in the future. Running from their problems or things that make them anxious is not a realistic method of dealing with anxiety as an adult. Therefore, it is important not to teach this coping method while they are still a child.
Understand their feelings but don’t enforce them. If your child is nervous about something, it is important to not dismiss their anxiety. Try to be understanding but do not enforce the behavior. Instead, listen to them and express how you understand why they feel that way, but always follow with reassurance that they can get through it.
Ask questions but don’t give them ideas. If there is an event or activity coming up that you know your child will probably be anxious about, ask them how they are feeling. However, it is important to ask open-ended questions. Therefore, instead of saying, “Are your nervous about this?” you would say, “How are you feeling about this?” That way, the child will feel comfortable talking to you without making them feel as though they should be anxious over something they may feel comfortable with already.
Do not accidently reinforce their anxiety. If you are suddenly in a situation with your child that you know they are usually anxious about, you might start to feel anxious too. Without even saying anything, body language can give this away. It is important to remain confident, even if you are worried about how your child will react. Therefore, they will only become as anxious as they allow themselves to be without your input, and may even have a positive experience without anxiety at all
Keep anticipation short. If you are aware of an anxiety-inducing event, such as a dentist appointment, do not tell your child days before. The worst part of anxiety over something typically occurs before the event even happens. Do not let your child think about the event they are nervous about for a long period of time. Try to keep the time they know about something short. Therefore, they have less time to feel anxious about it and will be more likely to have a positive experience without preconceived worries.
Talk with your child. If your child is fearful about anything in particular, such as getting lost or separated, it is important to have conversations about what they would do. Letting them know there is a plan in place for whatever causes them anxiety will greatly help alleviate their anxiety about that fear.
Children model after their parents. Whether you think they are watching or not, children are very perceptive. Therefore, it is extremely important to model appropriate and positive ways of dealing with your own anxiety and fears. Even if you have a hard time yourself, you don’t have to hide, but try to not let your kids notice or be involved with this while they are learning themselves. Instead, demonstrate how you positively deal with anxiety and be open with them.
In the future…
These few tips can greatly help your child deal with any anxiety they are experiencing. However, it is important to do as much research as a parent about the disorder, and pay attention to this aspect of your child. Outside resources are available and there are many treatment options if your child’s anxiety increases or worsens. Find a treatment option or ways of dealing with their disorder that works best for them and for you.