For children and adolescents to experience anxiety is quite common. As a concerned parent, you do not want your child to suffer. At the same time, parents can exacerbate the child’s anxiety by trying to protect them. So how can you help your child cope with anxiety?
How to identify anxiety in children
It can be difficult to identify patterns of anxiousness in a child. Whilst some fears are normal at different development stages, others can signal something deeper. Typical patterns of anxiousness exist when your child is suffering from extreme forms of fear and sadness. This could interfere with play activities, school and home.
Children who are anxious could display symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, irritability and anger.
Here is a list of the different types of anxiety disorders:
- Separation anxiety
- Social anxiety
- General anxiety
- Panic disorder
How to help your child cope with anxiety
Manage the anxiety
Facing one’s fears, will likely decrease the anxiety. If a child is simply allowed to bypass or avoids anxiety-provoking situations, it will not help them to deal with similar situations in the future. It is important to function as well as possible when anxious, naturally as anxiety reduces on its own over time.
By simply talking about their anxieties, a child may calm down. It is important for parents to listen and be empathetic. Support and encourage your child to face their fears.
Success brings more success. With that in mind, be patient with your child and help them take small steps to deal with anxieties. Be sure to reward them with praise or something tangible.
Focus on the positive
When children are anxious and stressed, they may focus on the glass half-empty. They can easily get lost in negative thoughts and worry about future events. Help your child to focus on positive aspects of the situation and acknowledge their own positive attributes.
Lead by example
Help your child deal with anxiety by letting them observe how you cope with anxiety. Children will naturally do as their parents do. If you look for the positive in situations and face your fears, so will your child.
In conclusion, Kiaat Hospital has a 16-bed Paediatric Care Unit run by experienced and trained staff. The Unit is decorated in bright colours and features the African Giraffe mascot to make a visit as comforting and pleasant as possible for any child and parent.
How to respect feelings without empowering fears
Clark Goldstein, PhD