Aug 15 , 2019
As humans we’re all familiar to some extent with the sensations associated with anxiety. Shortness of breath, sweating, a nervous tummy and an increased heart rate to name a few.
What’s even more distressing is witnessing your child experience some of these things especially at an early age.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of effective ways neutralise anxiety in a child. Some of them are things that you can do in the moment and others are more preventative things that you can build into your child’s lifestyle.
1. Go through the sense cycle
When your child is exhibiting signs of anxiety, it’s often useful to try and get them out of their head and back into the moment. We like to call this particular method The Sense Cycle.
Ask them to name something they can see, hear, smell and feel. It brings them right into the moment.
2. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is a great way for anyone to track and process everything that is going on in their lives. This definitely applies to children as well.
It can be especially hard for them to gain perspective on their problems and keeping a journal is one way of facilitating that.
3. Make a safe zone
Having a designated spot in your house, marked as a safe zone, will give your child a sense of safety and security.
It could be a corner of a room a spot under the stairs, anywhere that they feel safe and comfortable in a spot that you can still keep an eye on them. For children who get anxious often, this can be a great coping mechanism.
4. Find out what triggers their anxiety
Knowing what starts off the feelings of anxiety will help you to either avoid those situations entirely, or in circumstances where that isn’t possible or desirable, you’ll at least be ready to help and coach them through those situations when they arise.
This can be achieved by just talking or overtime by paying close attention to their behaviour. Either way it will help you to help them.
5. Explain what the physical symptoms are
Children experiencing anxiety can often find their anxiety worsened by the stress of the physical symptoms, a vicious circle of being anxious about being anxious.
If you arm you child with the knowledge that shortness of breath or sweaty palms are just normal reactions then they are less likely to “freak out”.
This can take a fair amount of time to sink in and will need more than one conversation but it will get through eventually help to ease their experience of anxiety.
6. Distract with an activity
This can be a great way of breaking up the tension, and getting them out of their heads. Whether it’s drawing or a game or just a kick about, the effects can be immediate.
Obviously this isn’t one for a child in the throws of an anxiety attack but can be great if it’s more of a mild worry.
Pausing to take a few deep breaths is a great thing to do at any stage of your life. Even as adults we find that this is an invaluable way of centring yourself in any situation.
8. Impart Confidence
Making a habit of instilling confidence in your child might seem a little obvious but words of reinforcement can be crucial to their development.
Confidence is about more than just having a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where being genuinely confident in your self wouldn’t be a huge advantage so get started early.
9. Speak To Them About Control
As adults we know the old saying, “learn to accept things that you cannot change, fight to change the things you cannot accept”.
Knowing the difference between things we can control and things we can’t is a really important distinction and makes a huge difference to wear we put our energy in life.
Helping your children to learn the difference will set them up well to deal with anxiety relating to the unchangeable.
10. Acknowledging their worries - rather than minimising them
When you’re worried about something, being made to feel silly for worrying doesn’t alleviate the worries! Accepting and acknowledging your child’s fears is the first step to unpacking them and ultimately dispelling them.
To be able to talk their fears through, it's important that they feel you’re taking them seriously. So allow them to speak honestly and validate their feelings before exploring them.