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How To Deal With Anxiety In Children

The Do’s And Don’ts For How To Manage Your Child’s Anxiety

Stress Management Tips for Kids and Teens!

Parents have a natural inclination to take care of, protect, and nurture their children. When you see your child overwhelmed with distress, your parenting instincts naturally kick in. Do you find yourself being more intrusive, over-involved, overprotective, or highly controlling when your child becomes anxious? As you will see, your parenting instincts may be reinforcing anxiety and making things worse. When you protect your child from feeling distress, you are giving the message that they cannot handle it and taking away valuable learning opportunities for them to learn how to handle it. Children need space to struggle, rest, learn, and grow – this is true for all aspects of independence and resilience. Review the following list of don’ts to see whether you are engaging in these unhelpful parenting patterns. Know that many parents do.

Paying Closer Attention To Our Children’s Cry For Help

Children can be sensitive to the world around them. They may feel anxious when they are experiencing challenges at home or at school such as issues with friendships, conflict in the home or changes that they are struggling to cope with. They may not be able to deal with the issues they are facing so it may develop into anxiety.

These are some signs that may indicate your child is struggling:

  • Tummy aches or headaches during stressful situations
  • Often upset or tearful for no apparent reason
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or repeated nightmares
  • Always worrying, or afraid of something happening in the future
  • Avoiding eating or comfort eating
  • Trouble staying focused or concentrating, and maybe extra fidgety
  • Having a hard time coping or opening-up
  • Needing the toilet more frequently than normal
  • Frequent meltdowns or tantrums, or other behavioural challenges
  • Difficulty in breathing, or a lot of sweating
  • Avoids meeting new people, or people who cause them stress
  • Avoids crowded places such as supermarkets or school
  • Strange behaviours that can cause self-harm
  • Panic attacks or their heart feels like it is racing.

How anxiety can present itself in young children

Phobias and fears – Children experience panic or severe fear of a specific thing or situation such as spiders, birds or the dark. You may find that they grow out of this but if this becomes an issue, please speak to your GP or the School Nurse to get some further support.

Offer Unconditional Love And Support

Your child needs to know that you will be with them, no matter what happens. Your unconditional love and support means they will be able to lean on you. They know that you have their back and that you will be there for them as they learn to overcome their fear. There will be times when you feel frustrated with your child, but be patient because your love and support does matter.

Read Also: How To Help A Loved One With Anxiety

Talk To Your Child About Their Worries

Start a conversation with your child by asking them to express their feelings about their worries. Simply telling a child not to worry or to stop thinking about their problems is neither supportive nor validating. Its better to reassure your child that its okay for them to be scared, and emphasize that you will be there to help them every step of the way.

If your child has difficulty explaining how they feel, ask them to communicate this in the form of a story. By stepping outside of themselves, your child may feel more comfortable and better able to describe their feelings and emotions.

What Are The Signs Of Anxiety In Toddlers

Your child feeling anxious all the time? Here are some tips and tricks ...

While it may seem unfathomable, toddlers and preschool-aged children can get anxiety. In fact, it is a common emotion. According to 2019 research report, 10 percent of children ages 2 to 5 show signs of an anxiety disorder. However, anxiety manifests differently in young children than it does in their older peers.

The following are signs of anxiety in toddlers and preschoolers, according to Psych Central:

  • Anger or aggression
  • Social withdrawal

Also Check: Can You Die From Anxiety

What Causes Anxiety Disorders

Several things play a role in causing the overactive “fight or flight” that happens with anxiety disorders. They include:

Genetics. A child who has a family member with an anxiety disorder is more likely to have one too. Kids may inherit genes that make them prone to anxiety.

Brain chemistry. Genes help direct the way brain chemicals work. If specific brain chemicals are in short supply, or not working well, it can cause anxiety.

Life situations. Things that happen in a child’s life can be stressful and difficult to cope with. Loss, serious illness, death of a loved one, violence, or abuse can lead some kids to become anxious.

Learned behaviors. Growing up in a family where others are fearful or anxious also can “teach” a child to be afraid too.

Dealing With Anxiety In Children What Adults Can Do To Strengthen An Anxious Brain

To thrive, we need to help our kids strengthen the connections horizontally with the logical left brain and the emotional right brain working together, and vertically with the rational front brain and the instinctive lower brain working together.

An important part of dealing with anxiety means not avoiding the things that feel overwhelming, but this will happen more easily when the entire brain is working together. This will mean easing the anxiety first, so the brain is more receptive to trying something new or unfamiliar. Now for the how.

  • Dont show resistance yet.

    Any resistance you show to your child when their anxiety is at full volume will only make the resolve of the lower brain stronger. Remember, it deals with things through fight or flight no negotiation, no compromise, no stretching. This doesnt mean always letting anxiety drive behaviour. Sometimes it will be important for your child to be brave and do the things that they are anxious about, but this will be easier if you pick your moment. Re-establish the connection between the front and back of the brain, then, once the front of the brain is back online and the left and right brain are working together, you will be in a better position to encourage different behaviour.

  • Read Also: How Do Anxiety Attacks Start

    Anxiety In Young Children

    6min read

    As mental and emotional health is more widely discussed now then ever before, families can understand how anxiety can have an impact on a child.

    It may not always be easy to spot the signs of anxiety in children and it may present itself in behavioural issues or emotional outbursts. Our guidance will help you understand your children’s needs and how to help them manage their feelings.

    “My tummy hurts” is one of the most common things parents hear when a child is feeling anxious. Most young children are already able to tell us if they are in pain. However, they may not necessarily understand what they are dealing with, or have the language skills or experience to express themselves if they are feeling worried about something.

    Pediatric Dentistry: How To Deal With Children As Patients

    Feeling Anxious? Ways for Children and Teens to Cope

    02. September 2022

    Going to the dentist causes great anxietynot only for many adult patients. Children also often show negative emotions and dentists should deal with them accordingly. However, there are significant differences in dealing with young anxiety patients, which is why some dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry. In this article, we will tell you how to become a pediatric dentist and how to deal with child patients.

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    When Is Anxiety A Problem For Children

    Anxiety becomes a problem for children when it starts to get in the way of their everyday life.

    If you go into any school at exam time, all the children will be anxious, but some may be so anxious that they don’t manage to get to school that morning.

    Severe anxiety like this can harm children’s mental and emotional wellbeing, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. They may become withdrawn and go to great lengths to avoid things or situations that make them feel anxious.

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    The Brain During Anxiety What You Need To Know

    The brain can be thought of as different sections left and right and front and back. The sections need to be able to work well on their own but they also need to work together. The stronger the connections between the parts of the brain, the greater the capacity to respond, relate, learn and grow.

    Think about this like a sports team. Each person on the team can be a superstar, but if each person insists on scoring all of the points themselves, regardless of what the rest of the team needs from them, there will be chaos. A strong team needs everyone to participate. Sometimes that will mean working hard on the front line, and sometimes it will mean stepping back so others can work their magic. The better the team can work together, the more effective it will be. Brains work the same way.

    One of the exciting developments in psychology is the discovery that the brain is always open to change. Its called experience-dependent neuroplasticity, and what it means for our children is that every experience we expose them to has the capacity to change and strengthen their brain. Understanding what happens in the brain during anxiety, will help to understand the ways we can make a difference.

    When the left and the right separate.

    When the front and the back disconnect.

    Talk To Your Teen About Anxiety

    Tips On How To Handle Anxiety In Children

    Reassure your teen that anxiety can also serve as a protective emotion under certain circumstances. Anxiety makes us aware of potential dangers and helps keep us safe. That uneasy feeling in the gut that we experience at times may be a signal of a potential threat. Since paying attention to these warning signs is a way to avoid harmful situations, feeling anxious can have a positive purpose. You can also help your teen feel less fearful about their anxiety by talking to them about what they can change to make a particular situation better in the future.

    Keep an open dialog with your teen. Maintaining effective communication with teens can be difficult and even uncomfortable at times. Teenagers wont always confide in their parents as they become more independent. Having a supportive communication style will enhance trust and comfort in sharing their feelings.

    Its imperative to establish regular communication with teenagers and inquire about their day. They may not go into great detail, but theyll know youre genuinely interested and concerned about them. A few encouraging words can go a long way. Tell your teen youre proud of them and the progress theyre making. If they express worry or anxiety about a particular situation, this is an opportunity to initiate a more in-depth conversation. Validate their feelings by saying I know this is a difficult situation or that sounds very hurtful.

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    Anxiety Treatment At Home

    If your child seems anxious but it’s not interfering with their everyday life, you might try helping at home first. Here are some tactics.

    Help your child confront their fears. All parents instinctively want to protect and comfort their kids if your child screams hysterically whenever a dog walks by, for example, you might try to keep them far away from canines. However, “doing that may make things easier in the short run, but it reinforces their fear,” says Dr. Ginsburg. “Instead, they need to confront the fear and work on their skills to manage it.” You can help your child take small steps, like watching dogs from a distance and then petting a puppy on a leash. With each victory, celebrate your child’s bravery with a small reward, like ten extra minutes on the Xbox.

    Find out what’s causing the anxiety. Before reassuring your child in anxious situations, find out specifically what they’re fretting about, says Dr. Chansky. Consider a child who’s anxious about starting school in a new city. “You may be tempted to say, ‘Don’t worry. No one is going to be mean to you at school,’ when in reality they were worried about finding their way around. Now you’ve given them something new to worry about.” To figure out his specific concern, ask, “What do you think is going to happen?” Then think of several things that the two of you can do ahead of time to help ease their fear.

    How To Deal With Anxiety

    Lack of social contacts, fear of getting infected or financial worries. Over two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on the mental health of many people around the world.

    Women and young people in particular have been affected.

    Social anxiety in the time of Covid In 2020, Kerstin had just overcome her social anxiety with therapy. But then came the lockdown. Now she has to practice socializing to overcome her fears all over again.

    What happens in the body when were scared? No matter if were actually in a threatening situation or merely frightened, the same reactions occur in the body every time were afraid.

    Stomachache caused by stress Children and teens often react to anxiety or stress with physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches. How should parents best handle them?

    Hypochondria: The fear of being terminally ill An ache in the stomach or a slight headache are usually nothing to worry about. But for hypochondriacs, such physical symptoms often trigger fears of serious or even terminal illness.

    Using VR technology to treat anxiety In therapy to treat anxiety, a very important aspect of successful treatment is called exposure, or facing one’s fears. Virtual-reality technology offers patients the chance to confront their fears in a safe environment.

    Fitness exercise: Stretches in a sitting position Fitness instructor Aurelia Damann shows you how you can stretch the back of your legs in almost any location.

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    Fight Flight Freeze A Guide To Anxiety For Kids

    For even more information and tools, visit MAP for Children. My Anxiety Plan is an anxiety management program designed to provide adults struggling with anxiety with practical strategies and tools to manage anxiety. MAP includes 6 easy to navigate units with 45 lessons.

    Does My Child Have An Anxiety Disorder?

    As discussed throughout this website, anxiety is useful in certain situations, some of the time. But how do you, the parent or caregiver, know when the signs of anxiety you are seeing in your child might be significant enough to qualify for an anxiety disorder? An appointment with your family physician or a trained mental health professional is a good first step. However, in preparation for that visit, or to decide whether a visit is needed, it can help to understand what professionals look for in diagnosing an anxiety disorder.

    To begin with, there are eleven different types of anxiety disorders, and each anxiety disorder has a list of commonly occurring symptoms clustered into four areas:

    • Physical responses
    • Behaviours
    • Attending school

    Validate Your Childs Fear

    Children’s Anxiety: 3 Ways to Help Your Anxious Child

    As parents, we sometimes do not know how to respond to our childs anxiety. This is especially so when their fears and worries are over things that are seemingly insignificant. Additionally, their worries sometimes interrupt daily life.

    For example, your child might suddenly wake you up at 3am and tell that she is worried that she will be unable to make ends meet in the future when she is an adult because she is not doing well in school.

    It is times like this that we need to filter our responses and make sure to not dismiss their fears and worries, even if it seems really irrational. Instead, validate their fears, and let your child know that she is heard and respected.

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    Dont Ask Leading Questions Do Think It Through

    While this may seem contradictory, asking leading questions can often continue the anxiety cycle. It is better to ask open-ended questions or talk worries through with your child as this allows them to still talk about their feelings without giving power and control to the fear.

    For example, instead of asking, Are you anxious about failing your test? Try to instead ask them how they are feeling about the test or even how they are feeling in general. Here, they are in control of their feelings.

    Another great way to take power away from anxiety is to think things through.

    For example, if your child is afraid that a stranger might be sent to pick them up, you can ask your child that if this does happen, they can express their fears of abandonment.

    You can then both work together to come up with a solution like having a special code to give anyone that picks the child up, taking away the risk and fear. Here, having a plan is a way for your child to reduce uncertainty effectively.

    What Is Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention

    Social anxiety disorder previously known as social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which you experience persistent fear of social or performance situations, according to the National Institute of Mental Health . People who have social anxiety disorder worry that they will behave in a way that will be embarrassing and humiliating, and that they will be judged by others, particularly people they do not know well.

    Suma Chand, PhD, director of the cognitive behavior therapy program in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, says people who have social anxiety often feel they need to behave perfectly in social situations, because they tend to imagine that others are superior to them and critical of them. They also have a longing for acceptance, but their fear of othersâ judgment can keep them from finding it.

    Social anxiety disorder consists of much more than the shyness or nervousness that many people feel in common social situations, such as going on a first date or giving a presentation .

    The condition can interfere with daily activities and even cause people to completely avoid social interactions, even though they often realize their anxiety is irrational. âI have often had my clients tell me how they are exhausted by social situations,â says Dr. Chand.

    Read Also: What Can I Do To Help My Anxiety

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