You’ve noticed slight changes in your child’s mood and behavior lately.
At first, you thought it may be their sleep schedule or nutrition. Maybe they weren’t getting enough sleep. Do they need different meals during the deal? More protein, less carbohydrates. You even questioned if their classes are too hard or if they may be getting bullied by classmates at school.
You tried switching some things around, but they’re still not acting like their normal, happy-go-lucky selves. You’re worried that there’s a larger issue at hand, but you can’t seem to pinpoint it.
You know that they’re struggling with anxiety, but you’re not quite sure of the exact cause or how to help them. Don’t worry, we’re here for you!
Here’s how to help your child cope with their anxiety.
Incorporate a Positive Lifestyle
One of the best ways to help anyone, children, and adults included, with anxiety is to start with the home life. Lifestyle plays a big role in someone’s overall health and wellness. Go grocery shopping together and purchase well-balanced ingredients for you to make healthy meals together. Set a sleep schedule so your child is getting enough sleep throughout the night. You can also get active as a family. This could mean walking around your neighborhood together, going to the local gym, playing sports outside, or joining an intermural team together. These types of positive lifestyle changes can help to reduce stress and anxiety and increase someone’s mood.
Teach Them Positive Coping Mechanisms
As a parent, you have a huge opportunity to teach your children many different things. One of them could be positive coping mechanisms. A lot of children won’t know what anxiety even is, why they’re experiencing it, or what to do about it. Try to have a calm, open, and honest conversation with them. You can learn more about their anxiety, fears, and worries, and also teach them some tips and tricks on how to cope with the anxiety that they’re experiencing. Here are a few different healthy coping mechanisms you can try with your child:
- Deep breathing
- Encourage positive self-talk or mantras
- Think of their safe place
- Praise brave actions and behavior
Don’t Diminish Their Feelings
Instead of saying things like “You shouldn’t feel this way” or “This isn’t scary”, let them know that you understand how they’re feeling. Even if it’s something that you may not understand, let them know that you respect how they’re feeling. That little bit of validation can mean more than you realize to your child. In fact, it can even help them face their fears. If you completely dismiss how they feel or diminish their feelings, they won’t actually be able to confront their fears in a positive way.
Help Them Face Their Fears
As a parent, you can respect your child’s fears but also work towards helping them face their fears. You have to try to find a good balance of acknowledging how they feel, but encouraging them to try new things or attempt even things that they may be afraid of. Let them know that it’s okay to be scared to do something, but even if they’re scared, they can still try new things. Teach them that some things in life, especially new experiences, maybe a little scary from time to time. Teaching them to face their fears can help them face their anxiety head-on.
When you’re a parent, you just want to make sure your child is healthy, safe, and happy. It can be concerning if your child is experiencing anxiety. You’re not alone, and there’s a good chance that you have nothing to do with your child’s anxiety! If you need a little extra help with your own anxiety or your child’s, reach out to us today to set up a consultation for child therapy.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.