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Everyone Has Some Anxiety
Anxiety is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives. Occasionally being anxious is nothing to worry about but if the anxiety disrupts the child’s life then it is something that needs to be addressed. Addressing it early on and teaching the child tools to cope will benefit them throughout their whole life. I am trained in play-therapy for young children, and I have worked in elementary, middle and high schools. I can help with school issues and family issues. I’ve also worked with foster families and children. These experiences have prepared me to help others in most situations.
Children With Anxiety
Children with anxiety have high expectations of themselves and they fear not being able to meet them. Don’t fight their fears by trying to convince them that they have nothing to be afraid of. To help children with anxiety, they need for their fears to be calmed. First, teach them to calm their body. This must be practiced so they can easily use these tools when they feel anxious. The easiest way to begin to calm their body is to use breathing to slow down their heartrate. A parent can often see the child getting worked up before they realize it themselves. Teach the child how to recognize it. Teach them to use their words to communicate their fears and concerns. Take a moment and help the child slow down there breathing. There are many ways to do this. You can use the app breathe2relax or you can do slow deep breaths and have them match your breaths. Once the child is able to self-soothe, then it will be easier to control the fears. Now you can work on those fears by reassuring them. They are worthy, loved, and capable just as they are and that will not change regardless of what happens in the future. The more this can be demonstrated to the child, the more they will believe it. This will free the child of guilt and worry which will allow them to flourish in whatever endeavor they seek out. The best time to demonstrate this unconditional love is in midst of their failures. A hug goes a long way for a child (and for adults).
Another way to help a child with anxiety is to make their world predictable. Chaos breeds chaos. It fuels anxiety with the “what ifs” of imagined catastrophes. Showing the child how to make their world predictable helps to stop the what ifs. Show them there is no “what if”, instead show them that this is what is going to happen. It starts with a simple daily schedule, routines. Develop healthy routines and stick to them. Don’t shield the child from the situations that cause them anxiety. Walk with them through it while keeping your routines. Shielding your child will only teach them to avoid life. Show them how to face their fears and overcome them. Be there for them. Be present. Don’t minimize the fear, acknowledge the fear. And then take the next step forward. Each step forward is a victory! Celebrate the victories. Learn from the failures. Move forward either way in love. Be sure to communicate that love to them and pair it with an action. A high five, a pat on the back, a smile, a tear, a touch on the shoulder, a hug. A child’s worth is not in what they do but who they are. Show them that is true.
Anxiety affects most people. If your child has anxiety, chances are that you do too. A child learns more from what you do than what you say. Show your child that you do not have to be perfect, you have struggles too, and this is the way forward. Give them the words and back it up with your actions. Remember what you tell your child becomes what they tell themselves. Your voice is internalized into their inner voice. What you say matters but what you do is what is learned by them.