It’s safe to say nearly every person will experience anxiety at some time in their life. Anxiety is normal and can even be used as a helpful tool. On the other hand, too much anxiety is not helpful – and it can feel awful for the person feeling it.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 1 in 8 children are impacted by an anxiety disorder. Here are a few helpful tips posted in an article from Hey Sigmund that you can use to walk your child through the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety.
Tip # 1 – Seek to Understand.
It is natural for a parent to do all they can to comfort their child. It is not helpful to tell your little one, “Stop thinking about it, and it will go away.” The reality is that the fear they are experiencing feels very real to them, and what your child needs most is to know that you’re present with them and want to understand their feelings. Ask them what it feels like in their body. Or try helping them put a picture to what they’re experiencing.
Tip # 2 – Normalize It.
Remind them that what they are going through is normal and okay — and that many kids and adults feel anxious.
Tip # 3 – Educate.
Teach them what is going on in their brain. This can be done in a way that is fun and very helpful! (The article below explains how to do this in a simple way.)
Tip # 4 – Explain How Common It Is.
Explain to your little one that they and 3 to 4 of their friends in class experience anxiety, too.
Tip # 5 – Name It.
Let your child know that anxiety is coming from a part of their brain that is trying to help them. Maybe they want to call it the ‘hercules muscle’ that’s there to protect them.
Tip # 6 – Empower Them.
Teach your little one how to identify when their ‘hercules muscle’ is working to protect them – and what they can do as the boss to relax and feel safe.
Tip # 7 – Breathe.
Teach them how to take deep belly breaths, 5 to 10 times, holding in their breath for just a moment. You can practice this at night during their bedtime routine.
Tip # 8 – Use Mindfulness.
There is great research on the effectiveness of mindfulness for anxiety. Mindfulness is simply being present with what is going on in the moment. You can use the 5 senses tool – “what is one thing you smell, feel, hear, see, and taste in this moment?”
For more information on these tips, check out Anxiety in Kids: How to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life by Hey Sigmund.
~ By Jordyn Chubb, Student Intern