Stress and turmoil can leave anyone feeling uncertain about the future, which breed anxiety. Children are also faced with these feelings. The following 9 tips have been gathered to help parents and other adults help children struggling with anxiety develop coping techniques to help them now and in the future.
Listen to Children when they Talk
In times of stress and high anxiety, children will either want to talk or they won’t. Each child experiences anxiety differently, so either not talking or even talking excessively about a situation or feelings is normal. If a child doesn’t open up about a situation causing anxiety, it’s important to let them know you are there to listen, if they decide they have questions, concerns, or need advice.
If the child does want to talk about their situation and feelings, it’s important to listen carefully. Watch their body language, let them know they are allowed to have feelings. It’s also important to encourage children to talk about what is bothering them in a respectful manner.
Don’t Skip the Hard Stuff
Sometimes an adult will avoid talking about difficult issues with a child because they don’t want to cause an anxious episode. However, avoiding difficult conversations isn’t the best way to deal with difficult topics. Instead of avoiding tough conversations, it’s important to find out how much they want to know and what they’re truly curious about.
Be Honest About What You Don’t Know
Sometimes kids will ask tough questions. Sometimes, they’ll even ask questions that you don’t know the answers too. If you can’t answer a question, it’s important to be honest about it. Use the opportunity to learn about the topic and find the answer to the question together.
Know What Kids are Watching and Surfing
Kids are growing up in a technological renaissance. With smartphones, children have almost instant access to anything they desire to know more about. They can watch videos, movies, and chat with their friends. It’s important to monitor this activity online and on TV. For some kids, social media, messenger, and other apps could be a source of anxiety. By monitoring these outlets, you can help deter situations that could cause anxiety in the future.
Be Prepared to Talk About Tough Topics
Kids are going to ask questions. It’s healthy and normal. If you or another adult is not answering their questions, they may be finding answers elsewhere. And, if not the answers provided aren’t legitimate, it could cause undue pediatric anxiety. One way to avoid this and cope with anxiety too is to be prepared for children to ask questions about normal life events and circumstances.
Be Aware of Your Children’s Sensitivity
Some kids are more sensitive than others. Even siblings can have very different responses to the same situation. When a child reacts to a situation, it’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way to respond to an anxious situation. Instead, look for long-term stress reactions. If anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. doesn’t subside after some time, you may need some intervention from a mental health provider or pediatrician.
As parents, it’s important to take care of yourself. In some situations, responses to certain situations, such as anxiety, are learned behaviors. If you also have anxiety, it’s okay to share this with your children. Let them know how you cope with it. If you’re struggling, it’s important to seek assistance. The best way to help children cope with anxiety is to know how to cope with your anxiety too.
Spend Time Together
The best way to reduce an anxious situation is to spend time with the ones you care about the most. Family support is ideal during difficult situations. When a child is feeling anxious, they need to be able to rely on their siblings and parents for support.
Be Hopeful About the Future
Difficult, stressful, or devastating situations can create short or long-term anxiety. Instead of getting down about a particular situation, it’s important to be hopeful about the future. Being hopeful around your children will help them be more positive about the future as well.
There you have nine coping techniques to help a child with high anxiety. Practice one or all of the techniques mentioned above and you will see your children start using the techniques on their own.