Anxiety is a real problem for kids. As a parent, there are many things you can do to help them overcome their anxiety. One is to talk with a professional. This could be a school counselor, pediatrician or therapist. Often, just having someone to name the problem and provide a plan of attack is enough to help.
Another important thing is to understand that just because your child is anxious does not mean they are crazy or weak. In fact, anxiety is normal and a healthy response to certain situations. When children are anxious, they often experience a number of symptoms like a racing heartbeat, sweating, difficulty breathing and more. Some kids may even have a full-blown panic attack.
It is also important to remember that anxiety is not caused by something they did or didn’t do, it happens because of how their brain and body are wired. This can be due to genetics, brain physiology, temperament, environment or past traumatic events. Whatever the cause, anxiety can be a crippling problem for children and their families.
Lastly, it is important to try to keep your child from avoiding situations that make them nervous. Avoidance can actually make the anxiety worse. Children who always avoid things that are upsetting or scary will not be able to cope with these situations as they get older. If you notice that your child is avoiding social events, dogs, school or planes, talk with a professional. It is possible to get them back into those situations, but it may take some time. Start small, such as letting them practice being around a dog or having them play with one child before putting them in the position to be surrounded by all their peers at school.
Help your child learn to use their anxiety as fuel rather than a crutch. One way to do this is to teach them about mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises can help them come back to the present and shift their focus from what if to what is. You can do this by pointing out things they can see, hear, touch and smell or have your child take three deep breaths to center themselves.
Another good strategy is to encourage them to think about the positive aspects of a situation. If your child is worried about making the school basketball team, for example, you can point out that they can work hard and improve over the summer to increase their chances of getting on the team next year.
Childhood should be a carefree time, but for too many children anxiety is preventing them from being happy and successful. With these simple solutions, you can free your child from their anxiety and give them the tools they need for a happy life.