ad collaborative post // Children, like adults, can suffer with anxiety over a huge variety of different things. Some of these things are irrational – considering how active a child’s imagination can be – and others are threats which seem to be (or can be) very real to a young mind. Either way, it’s important to recognize when your child is feeling anxious, why and how to help them manage it.
I think it’s important for children and young adults to learn about anxiety from a young age. As someone who started suffering with an anxiety disorder at around 21, I had NO knowledge of anxiety or any form of anxiety disorder. I didn’t even know what a panic attack was. That lack of knowledge was terrifying when these signs and symptoms started happening to me.
Had I had a better understanding of anxiety, what it is, how it presents itself in the body and the fact that anxiety disorders aren’t normal, can happen to anyone and can crop up at any time, I think I’d have been in a better state to deal with it early on, instead of having to ensure almost a decade of stumbling through it.
I think it would be a real benefit for children to learn about mental health, mental illness and conditions like anxiety at a younger age. Not to mention, I think it would make parents more equipped to handle it in a more effective way too. As a child, I suffered from a period of extremely high anxiety which presented itself as severe disordered eating. This is very different to what I experienced as an adult.
That period of time was dreadful. Not just for me but for my parents. I still remember, as a 8 year old, some of the things that were said to me or about me when that was happening. Nobody knew what to do or how to help me. Nobody thought to get to the root cause of it. Nobody thought I might have needed more professional help.
Dealing with anxiety in children is difficult for everyone involved. It’s important to understand the needs of individual children and not lump them all in the same box with the same coping techniques. Some younger children might benefit from Fidget Toys and you can find some of the best fidget toys like this KeepEmQuiet Sensory Fidget Kit.
In this post, we’re going to highlight a few ways to relieve stress in children:
Patience is key
I think patience is probably one of the key virtues when it comes to most things in life, so when dealing with an anxious child, this applies tenfold. Getting impatient with them isn’t going to help or improve anything, so take things at their pace. Allow them to finish what they’re saying, don’t interrupt and don’t get agitated at them if things are going slow.
Encourage but don’t force
It’s best not to avoid the things that make the child anxious. By avoiding them for a long period of time, it’s likely going to make it worse in the long term. You can’t force them into things but the language you use to encourage them is really important. If you whisk them out of an anxious situation, they’re going to learn that that’s the thing to do.
Be aware of how you’re reacting
Children take a lot from the way the adults around them are acting and behaving – I think that much is obvious. So being extra aware about how you’re reacting to a situation can definitely help relieve a child with anxiety. If they see you being super anxious, they’re going to think they need to be anxious too.
Talk things through
Talking is gold. And although you may have to alter your words and language slightly because you’re talking to a child, it’s still important to talk things through, listen to them and take them and their worries seriously. Feeling like they can talk to you honestly and openly about their anxieties can be a huge aspect in helping them relieve it.
Be a good role model
Similarly to being aware of how you’re reacting, being a good role model for anxious children is really important. Acting in a way that they will look up to and be in awe of is important. Try and model healthy ways of handling things and overcoming anxieties for children to see.
Stay positive (but realistic)
Keeping a positive attitude with children is important too. You don’t want to sugar coat things too much or give false expectations or hopes but keeping a realistic and positive attitude can do absolute wonders. Saying things like, “I know this might feel scary now but you’ll be absolutely fine!”