Tips On How To Handle Anxiety In Children |Building Our Story Yum

Friday, March 4, 2016

Tips On How To Handle Anxiety In Children

Meet Jude!  His brain ever stops. He is our anxious child. 

Definition of anxious - experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Jude is almost 6 years old, unbelievable right?  And while he is growing into such a smart, caring, sweet boy we are also finding that he is a very anxious and worried child.  Both Jeremy and I are well aware of this and want to make sure we are supporting him through this but also teaching him how best to cope with these feelings.  This is a huge learning task for both of us but we are committed to this precious boy and we want the very best for him so we are really focusing on how to deal with the anxiety head on. 

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While we are certainly not experts I am sharing some of the tips we have tried with Jude and some that we are hoping to implement still.  

Tips On How To Handle Anxiety In Children

Don't avoid things just because they make a child anxious:

We always want to protect our children but sometimes protecting them from everything that makes them anxious is a bad thing. This action reinforces the anxiety over the long run and lets the anxiety cycle continue.

Respect the child's feelings, but don't empower them:

Listen and be empathetic to the child's fear, worry or anxiety but let them hear that they CAN face their fears.  Send the message that you hear them, and it is okay that they are scared but that they will get through this situation.

Don't ask leading questions:

I am so guilty of this.  We want to start conversations with our kids and at times we know what is bothering them or on their mind so it is second nature to ask about those fears or worries.  Encourage the child to talk about their worries and fears but do now put the worries in their mind.  Open ended questions over leading questions.  

Allow Them to Worry:

Worrying is not a weakness, let them worry. We all know that kids and adults will continue to worry even after you tell them not too! So don't say that! Easier said than done. Build in "worry time" for your child. This puts a limit to the amount of worrying but still lets them feel their feelings. Depending on the age of the child a worry box could be made for a great activity - decorate a worry box and during worry time there are no rules on what constitutes a valid worry - anything goes. When the time is up, close the box and say good-bye to the worries for the day.

Highlight Why Worrying is Good:

Teach your child that worrying has a purpose, there is not something "wrong" with your child. Worry is a protection mechanism. Worry rings an alarm in our system and helps us survive danger. Over the years, human danger has changed a lot but it is still important to teach your kids that worry is perfectly normal, it can help protect us, and everyone experiences it from time to time. Sometimes this worrying can be false worry and that is when we have to use techniques to deal with the false alarms.

Plan for transitions:

Busy mornings, school drop off, prep for church, heading to a play-date - all situations that can be seen as pleasant but also filled with anxiety.  Allow plenty of time to transition into new experiences and environments if these situations have been worrisome in the past.  Be planful for your child.  

Stay calm when your child becomes anxious:

This can be a difficult tip to master for anyone but especially parents.  Step back and remember the above tips and let your child worry.  Do not belittle or talk down to them, this will only make the situation more anxious and worrisome for the parties involved.  

Teach Breathing Techniques:

Finding ways to relax and truly remove the busy mind from a situation is so important. There are many breathing techniques and meditations for all ages that can be implemented and taught.  This is a good step to teaching your child life long coping skills for dealing with the anxiety that they feel.   

Like I said, we are still learning these and hope to implement and use them all in our family with Jude.  It is a huge learning process for us.  Currently, I am reading a book that a friend of mine read while her child was showing signs of anxiety.  I hope to do a book review once I finish.  

What tips do you have to add to this list for parents dealing with an anxious child?

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  1. This post resonates with me. I have an anxious child and his brain just doesn't stop. That is such an accurate description of him. We often use the breathing trick of taking a deep breath and blowing out a candle. That has worked really well for us.

  2. This is the first time that I heard this anxiety in children, Such an informative post I need to put this in my mind.

  3. What a cute boy your little Jude is! He's lucky to have you, it sounds like you're doing everything right to help him overcome his anxiety, which will be a huge asset to him as an adult. Kudos to great parents!

  4. My youngest has severe anxiety, thankfully it has been getting better over the years. These are great tips for helping kids out. I know staying close to Bella and talking a lot has helped her to cope with her anxiety.

  5. Anxiousness in kids is a hard one. You don't want to make them have severe anxiety when they grow up.


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