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What Can Help A Child With Anxiety

How Common Is Anxiety

How Parents Can Help With Child Anxiety | UCLA CARES Center

Anxiety is one of the most common problems experienced by children and young people. Both boys and girls are affected. Sometimes the anxiety can be greater than that of their peers and interfere with the young person’s life – how they manage on a day-to-day basis. This may be a sign that an ‘anxiety disorder’ is developing and treatment for this may be necessary.

How To Help Your Child In An Anxious Moment

When your child is in the middle of a very anxious moment, they may feel frightened, agitated or worried about having a panic attack. The important thing to do in the moment is to help them calm down and feel safe.

These strategies can help:

Remember that everyone is different, and that over time you and your child can work together to find the things that work best for them in these moments.

Natural Ways To Calm Your Childs Anxiety

Overview

Having an anxious child can be a heartbreaking experience for you and your kid. Youd do anything to calm her emotions, but where can you start? We arent born understanding how to comfort ourselves, but we do have to learn. When youre parenting an anxious child, you have two jobs: Calm her and also help her to learn how to calm herself.

Childhood anxiety is perfectly natural. The truth is, our world can be anxiety provoking for anyone. Childrens lack of understanding about the world around them, their short stature, and lack of control can make anxiety much worse.

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Why Is My Child Anxious

Some children are more likely to have worries and anxiety than others.

Children often find change difficult and may become anxious following a house move or when starting a new school.

Children who have had a distressing or traumatic experience, such as a car accident or house fire, may suffer from anxiety afterwards.

Family arguments and conflict can also make children feel insecure and anxious.

Teenagers are more likely to suffer with social anxiety than other age groups, avoiding social gatherings or making excuses to get out of them.

Find out more about social anxiety.

Even Though Adults Have A Lot Of Anxiety Triggers You Can Help Kids With Anxiety Too

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And, its our job as parents to teach our kids how to regulate their big emotions and deal with anxiety, sadness, and stress in their lives.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to round up some more ideas for activities that kids can do that will help them with overcoming their anxiety.

Whether you are looking for sensory activities, or de-stressing ideas, this list has a little bit of everything for the anxious child.

I cant wait to try some of these activities with my own kids.

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Listen And Ask The Right Questions

Before we all went into isolation, us parents could rely on not only ourselves to notice any changes in our kids, but their teachers, youth group leaders, and other caring adults. Now, its just on us. So, if you start noticing somethings off with your kids, the very first thing you should hone and practice are your being present skills. Sit with your kids and try your best to hear what theyre saying and not saying. Ask them questions to get them to go deeper, and try to resist the urge to have all the answers or fill the moment with happy talk. Its way more important to be a good listener.

What Is The Best Age To Get A Dog For A Child

Since owning a pet is a big responsibility, you should have enough time before adopting one. Leaving him at your childs responsibility isnt the ideal option if your child is too young. The dog isnt a toy, after all.

You can buy him a dog whenever you expect your child is ready to take care of him. Kids aged 5 to 10 years old are ready for a pet, but you have to take care of the dog in the initial years. Getting a dog so early can lead to a strong bond with your child even when he graduates.

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What Makes Children Anxious

Children can feel anxious about different things at different ages. Many of these worries are a normal part of growing up.

From the age of around 6 months to 3 years it’s very common for young children to have . They may become clingy and cry when separated from their parents or carers. This is a normal stage in a child’s development and should stop at around age 2 to 3.

It’s also common for preschool-age children to develop specific fears or phobias. Common fears in early childhood include animals, insects, storms, heights, water, blood, and the dark. These fears usually go away gradually on their own.

There may also be other times in a child’s life when they feel anxious. For example, many children feel anxious when going to a new school or before tests and exams. Some children feel shy in social situations and may need support with this.

Teach Your Child The Skills They Need To Manage Their Anxiety

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It’s normal for children to feel afraid sometimes. It can even be a good thing. After all, your child wouldnt think twice about running into oncoming traffic or jumping off a cliff if they didnt have a little fear. Fear is meant to keep them safe.

But sometimes, children can be scared of objects or situations that don’t actually pose a threatfor example, a fear of public speaking or monsters lurking under their bed. This anxiety can prevent them from doing things they’d like to do .

The way you respond to your childs anxiety will make a big difference in how they learn to cope with anxious feelings. Below are eight strategies that can help an anxious child learn to deal with their uncomfortable feelings.

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Concerned Your Child Is Suffering From Anxiety

Take our 3-minute anxiety assessment to see if he or she could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.

And then theres the genetic component. Anxiety disorders do run in families but a family history doesnt mean a child is destined to develop a disorder. Parental behavior can exacerbate and worsen childrens problem but thats not the same as saying that parents are the cause of the child having the problem in the first place, Lebowitz says.

Much depends on the childs innate sensitivity, family dynamics, and life experiences. Some children have a natural predisposition or vulnerability to anxiety or have difficulty regulating their feelings of anxiety and fear. And thats not because their parents did this or didnt do that, stresses Lebowitz, That said, parents can and should play an important role in helping children learn to cope better with their anxiety.

Dont Reinforce The Childs Fears

What you dont want to do is be saying, with your tone of voice or body language: Maybe this is something that you should be afraid of. Lets say a child has had a negative experience with a dog. Next time theyre around a dog, you might be anxious about how they will respond, and you might unintentionally send a message that they should, indeed, be worried.

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Causes Of Anxiety In Children

Anxiety in children can be caused by biological factors, familial factors and environmental factors.

Biological factors refer to the balance of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters relay messages in the brain and tell us how we should feel. Feelings of anxiety can arise when these neurotransmitters are sending incorrect signals.

Familial factors include genetic as well as learned behavior from a parent or a caregiver. Children whose parents have anxiety are more likely to be worried and fearful.

Environmental factors refer to experiences that the child has gone through. A traumatic experience such as illness, divorce or death may become a trigger for anxiety if it is not dealt with properly.

When Should I Seek Professional Help For My Anxious Child

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and our experts, you should consult a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating children with an anxiety disorder when the childs behavior or anxiety:

  • Disrupts the household and interferes with family activities and life
  • When the child gets upset multiple times a day or week
  • When the frequency and intensity of the fears escalate .
  • When the anxiety leads to significant avoidance behavior. The child continually and consistently makes excuses to avoid school or other situations that may provoke anxiety.
  • When the disorder is making it difficult for the child to interact with, make or keep friends.
  • When sleep habits are disrupted
  • When you begin to see compulsive behaviors and rituals such as repeated hand washing, counting, checking things and when the child refuses or is unable to leave the house without performing these rituals.
  • When your child shows a pattern of physical symptoms that are disruptive and detrimental to the child
  • When your child experiences panic attacks characterized by heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, hyperventilation.

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Challenging Behaviour Can Often Be An Unmet Emotional Need

When dealing with challenging behaviour, it can be hard to figure out what could be underneath it. When a child acts in a negative way such as biting, crying or hitting, it is usually a cry for help. You may find that they are overly clingy and cry even if you leave the room.

Understanding what may be causing the anxiety is important, maybe there has been a recent change at home or at their nursery/school. It may be conflict within the home, friendship issues, struggle with routines, bereavement or even a new move. Try to think back to when the anxiety started as that can help you pinpoint what may have caused them to feel this way.

As adults, most of us can recall times in our own childhood, where we felt worried or anxious about something. These worries, no matter how irrational they seem to parents, can feel very real to a child. Listen to their concerns, reassure them and try not to dismiss their fear as no big deal.

The Goal Isnt To Eliminate Anxiety But To Help A Child Manage It

None of us wants to see a child unhappy, but the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isnt to try to remove stressors that trigger it. Its to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function as well as they can, even when theyre anxious. And as a byproduct of that, the anxiety will decrease over time.

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Improve Sleep Hygiene With A Weighted Blanket

Anxiety disorders and sleep troubles often go hand in hand. In fact, the ADAA identifies insomnia and poor sleep as one of the most common side effects of anxiety. According to the National Sleep Foundation, even missing as little as 30 or 60 minutes of sleep a night can have an impact on kids.

For kids with anxiety disorders, missed sleep can also make anxiety worse. One way to fight back is by improving sleep hygiene. While this may sound like washing your hands or using a good shampoo, it actually means creating an environment thats conducive to healthy, restful sleep.

Besides ensuring your child gets enough rest, you can also take steps to make sure their rest is peaceful and soothing. Research has shown that weighted blankets help reduce the physiological hallmarks of anxiety by lowering blood pressure, improving pulse oximetry and regulating pulse rate. In studies, 78 percent of participants also preferred a weighted blanket as a calming modality.

At SensaCalm, we make weighted blankets in a wide variety of patterns and colors, so kids can choose a fun print or their favorite character. Generally, weighted blankets are made with about 10 percent of the users body weight, but you may wish to go up or down in weight depending on your childs preferences.

How To Help An Anxious Child

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

If a child is experiencing anxiety, there are things that parents and carers can do to help.

First and foremost, it’s important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries. Reassure them and show them you understand how they feel.

If your child is old enough, it may help to explain what anxiety is and the physical effects it has on our bodies. It may be helpful to describe anxiety as being like a wave that builds up and then ebbs away again.

As well as talking to your child about their worries and anxiety, it’s important to help them find solutions.

For example, if your child is worried about going to a sleepover, it is natural to want to tell them not to go. However, this could mean your child feels that their anxiety will stop them from doing things.

It’s better to recognise their anxiety and suggest solutions to help them, so they can go to the sleepover with a plan in place.

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What Are The Signs Of Anxiety In Children

When young children feel anxious, they cannot always understand or express what they are feeling. You may notice that they:

  • become irritable, tearful or clingy
  • have difficulty sleeping

In older children you may notice that they:

  • lack confidence to try new things or seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • have problems with sleeping or eating
  • have angry outbursts
  • have a lot of negative thoughts, or keep thinking that bad things are going to happen
  • start avoiding everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or going to school

Find out more about the symptoms of anxiety on our page about anxiety disorders in children.

How Parents Can Help Kids Dealing With Anxiety And Depression

It seems like every day were met with the news of horrific stories from around the world or personal tragedies that hit closer to home. Whether youve got a kid whos great at expressing themselves or a kid who likes to keep mostly to themselves, in the world in some way, were all being affected by the uncertainty of whats going on.

More and more, were hearing of kids who are sinking into the deep wells of depression and chest-seizing anxiety, and for many of us parents, we havent got the slightest idea what to do when were faced with the signs that our kids are just not OK. We either default to silent panic, avoidance, or sometimes, we miss these signs altogether. Sowhat can parents do to help their kids navigate their anxiety and depression and show up for our kids when they need us the most?

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