Sometimes it’s not easy dealing with an anxious child. You beg, you argue, you battle, and all the while your heart is breaking because you don’t know what to do or how to take the anxiety away. You would probably move heaven and earth just to let them have a single day without fear or the ever familiar stomach ache. You’re not alone. Believe it or not, over 40 million adults suffer from anxiety in the united states and 1 in every 8 children suffer from anxiety as well. For anyone, children and adults, there is no one solution for anxiety. Each child is different and with that in mind, can respond to different techniques in an effort to relieve their anxious state.
Step 1: Understanding Logic and Emotion
When your child reaches a state of anxiety, often times, parents try to talk the fear away. If you’re able to rationalize with your child, this is an excellent sign, but chances are you’re running into the problem of it not working. This may lead to you raising your voice or even yelling, but more often than not, your child isn’t ignoring you or refusing to listen. The problem is that your child can’t focus on your words. He may hear you, he may even want, very badly, to listen and follow your instructions. The problem lies with the brain, itself. When someone is having an anxiety crisis, logic isn’t always possible, depending on the severity of the attack. The logical part of the brain is overridden by the emotional portion of the brain.
Step 2: Breathing Exercises and Empathy
A few techniques to reduce anxiety is to breathe, empathize, and attempt to remain calm. Taking deep breaths can help reverse the nervous system response and bring your child’s logic back into focus. By empathising, you are showing your child that you understand and can relate to their anxiety. Remember that your child is scared whether it makes sense to you or not. Fear isn’t always logical.
Step 3: Don’t Belittle Worry – Good Reasons To Worry
Some children, along with their anxiety, also worry that because they have a problem there is something wrong with them as a person. This causes children to develop more anxiety because they’re upset about having anxiety in the first place. A technique to use here is to highlight why worrying can be a good thing. Explain to your child all of the obvious reasons why someone could worry. Try not to cause more with crazy scary stories. That would moderately defeat the purpose.
Step 4: Play The Detective Game
When we worry, it’s our brain’s way of warning us of danger. A great method for relieving anxiety is to teach your child to be a detective of his own mind and thoughts. If he’s worried about something, encourage him to find evidence that supports his worry. If he’s feeling anxious about other children at school not liking him, if he’s spending time being a detective to find out if his fears are accurate, often times he won’t even remember to worry about it. Make it a game, of sorts.
Step 5: Focus On The Now
Most people with anxiety worry about the future. Note that the things that your child worries about aren’t in the here and now. What they worry about is what could happen. Use a “here and now” exercise. Take the time to help your child do a breathing exercise and then attempt to get his focused thoughts on the now. Attempt to keep your child from imagining, “what if”. Focus instruments are often helpful. Try sitting down and doing a jigsaw puzzle or something that requires logic thoughts.
Step 6: Laddering To Victory
If your child tries avoiding everything that causes anxiety don’t let him. Avoidance often times breeds more anxiety in the long run. That’s not to say, throw him into deep water, as it were. The technique is called laddering. For example: If your child wants to go down the sliding board in the park, but is too afraid, don’t march him over and make him do it right then and there. Instead, set small goals. The first step is going to the park. The second step is walking around the play equipment. The third step is climbing up onto the first rung of the ladder of the slide. It may take several steps over days or even weeks, but once your child goes down the sliding board, that first smile, and that feeling of triumph for you and your child are wonderous.