Helping children deal with feelings of anxiety also helps them to deal with life problems. Each problem they face and every skill they learn will serve them well if they conquer the anxiety they faced. Knowing they can overcome problems by developing skills and facing challenges head on builds their self-confidence and lets them experience success. This, in turn, helps children to feel more capable and competent, which leads to increased self-esteem.
Anxiety is normal, especially in children. You’ll notice anxiety with babies, toddlers, school-age and even high school and college age children. It’s important to understand that such fears are normal in order to help your child conquer an anxiety issue.
Anxiety is a very real emotion that children experience at different stages in their lives. As babies, they might cry when you leave them; as teenagers, they might fear being on their own and making their own decisions in a “peer pressured” world; and as adults, they might cry when they are away from home. No matter what age your child is, try to be understanding and supportive, as they are just trying to cope with their fears in the best way they know how.
You can help your children develop the skills they need to deal with difficult situations by focusing on the problem at hand and remaining calm. Here are a few things you can do to help:
· When you’re about to leave your child at school, talk to them about how they’re feeling. A pre-schooler may be scared about being left at school, but excited about playing with other children and having so much fun. Ask your child if they’re happy that they get to play with toys and other children. Also, try and familiarize him with the school and other children there before leaving him. This way, they’ll feel more comfortable and won’t be as scared.
· It’s important to be gentle when helping children cope with anxiety. If your child is afraid of the dark, talk to him and help him check the room for monsters. A nightlight can also help.
· In order to help your child overcome their fears, it is important that you first encourage them to openly talk about what is causing them anxiety. Don’t invalidate their feelings by shrugging them off as unimportant. Acknowledging their concerns and working together to find solutions can help to dissipate any feelings of fear your child may have.
· Do not cave into your child’s fears. Giving into them will only make the fear appear more real. Be sure your child knows that you understand why they feel that way, but remain firm about the outcome.
· One way to help a child deal with anxiety is to serve as a role model. If you show signs of panic when you’re running late for work, the child will think that’s a normal reaction. However, if you say something like, “I’ll just have to get up earlier next time,” your child will learn some good ways to deal with the situation.
When a child is old enough to reason with, you may want to teach him deep breathing and visualization techniques. Each fear that your child overcomes will help him overcome future challenges with greater ease. By teaching your child how to control his breathing and focus his thoughts, you give him a priceless tool that he can use throughout his life.