As much as we think that modern times always bring advances that make life easier, sometimes it’s quite the opposite. It can be difficult for everyone, especially kids, to cope with the high demands of modern living.
Children nowadays often experience a lot of pressure from their peers, parents, and school and such high demands frequently cause anxiety even depression. Moreover, if a child doesn’t fit in the conventional norms and stereotypes, it becomes even harder. In cases when anxiety is intensified, a lot of parents go into protection mode and try to solve their child’s problems for them and ensure a stress-free life. However, it’s a much better idea to try and slow down the general pace of daily life in order to reduce overall stress for anxious children as they can’t really protect the kids from experiencing anxiety.
What parents can do is teach and help their kids learn how to manage and overcome anxiety and here are some suggestions on how to do it.
Set clear expectations
When dealing with an anxious child, it helps to set the same expectations as for non-anxious ones. However, there will need to be some adjustment in pace. Things should be done at a slower pace and while you don’t want to avoid stressful situations, you might opt for the ones that are not so intense. For instance, if your kids get invited to a big birthday party, your anxious child would probably like to avoid it, so you might opt for smaller parties with fewer triggers.
By explaining to your child that in this way they will learn slowly how to cope with stress at smaller doses and by setting clear expectations, you’ll help your child work through the anxious feelings and learn how to manage them the next time it happens.
Let kids experience their feelings
No child or adult has ever calmed down just by being told to calm down. In fact, worry is good as it has an important function in our lives. It makes us think and evaluate dangers and threats so it’s crucial your child also learns to recognize that. Give your child some 101 times with you every day to discuss their feelings and worries, acknowledge them and go through possible solutions together. This will give them a sense of certain control over the way they feel and show them that fear and anxiety is manageable.
In such a situation it’s important you don’t belittle or amplify your child’s worries, but try to be a good listener and empathize with them. Be understanding and encouraging about them facing their fears. Let them know that you see they’re scared and that it’s ok, that you’re there to help them work through it.
Help them develop a coping kit
Anxious kids worry too much about making mistakes and things not being perfect. This is particularly evident in school situations, especially if they have experienced failures in class and other students mocking them. This may lead to them trying to avoid going to school or believing they’re incompetent and incorrigible, so their grades may start to slip.
What you as a parent can do is to put the focus on giving new things a shot and learning new coping skills. For instance, if maths is the problem, try using math1003 notes as additional help so your child can see that others have already been through the same trouble and got out of it alive. They’ll also learn that one good strategy for success is asking for help and that there’s no shame in it.
Moreover, add that strategy to a list of concrete strategies your child can turn to whenever they’re in a moment of anxiety. It could incorporate things like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, journaling, stress ball, reframing thoughts and simply talking to adults.
Don’t avoid stressful situations
Teaching your children to avoid situations that cause them anxiety will make them feel better only in the short term, but it will strengthen their anxiety in the long run. If you always remove your child from a stressful situation, they will learn that as a coping mechanism and repeat the cycle every time they find themselves in a similar situation. It will be much better if you desensitize your child to anxiety triggers by taking a small step a time.
Empathize with the child
Children often describe their anxious states as being feeling paralyzed, overwhelmed and struggling to complete even simple daily responsibilities such as going to school or practice. This sometimes extends to fun activities as well like going to the movies or play dates. One thing a parent can do here is to empathize with the child in order to normalize their experience of the situation and help them understand that they don’t have to go through it alone and basically be their guide and support.
When helping a child deal with anxiety, the goal isn’t to completely eliminate anxiety, but rather give them skills to manage it and offer your understanding, empathy, and support so they know they’re not alone and that there is a way out.
Isabel William is a consultant by day and a blogger by night and Mom to twins 24/7.
Area of interest includes education, well being, mental health, as well as self-improvement.
Considered by her peers a lifetime educator, whose passion is love for writing, parenting, education, and science.