Even the most well-meaning parents can fall into the negative cycle when they face with their child’s chronic anxiety. You might even use wrong techniques and just aggravate the child’s fears and mind. You should first know that anxiety is a normal emotion and young children are less able to articulate their feelings. Even though their fears may seem irrational to you but they are very real to the child.
There are some habits that you cultivate every day if you have a child who is facing anxiety.
- Positive and realistic expectations
You may not find your child’s fear to be very real sometimes. You will feel like ignoring them or asking the child to curb it. Other times you might be worried and to get rid away with the unpleasant situation, you may want to make unrealistic promises to your child. For example – “You will win the competition” or “Nobody will make fun of you while you perform”, etc.
These are maybe in some way positive things but they are unrealistic and will fail your child when they face the reality.
What you really must do is to be realistic. Tell them the worst possibilities. Then place your confidence in them. Tell them that they will win anyway or they will not be bothered by anyone who makes fun of them. Make them believe that they will be able to manage it. Next time they face a similar fear, they will repeat your words and gain confidence in your absence.
- Validation over agreement
Its neither important nor right on your part to agree with everything your child says. For example – If your kid is saying no to come to the doctor, you will have to make them understand. If you keep saving them from every fear, they will end up losing all their confidence. You must listen to your child carefully when they express their emotions. But it is one thing to accept their fears and another to amplify them. You don’t have to belittle your kid’s emotions and go ahead with your decision. The best way to lead the way is to make them believe that you understand their fear but also make them realize that – this is important and they must face it because you believe in them. Encourage them to feel that they can face their fears. They will know that you will stand by their side and that they will get through it.
- Practice deep breathing together
When one gets anxious, the heart rate tends to increase too. The breathing also becomes shallower at this time. The amount of oxygen taken falls down and increases the panic. During such a time, deep breathing will help the heart rate to slow down and make one feel physically calm.
Whenever your child comes to you with a problem, hold them lightly at their shoulders and ask them to breathe deeply first. Practice it together every time. If your child will face such a situation in future, they will know the first step.
- Let them solve the problem
You cannot keep your child reassuring that everything will be okay always. The reassurance will only increase the worry with time. For example – Your child may be scared that they have to wait alone for you to pick them after school, or if that bully comes to insult them again. In such situations, when the child is asking you the “What ifs”, you must revert the question back to them. Make them answer their own questions. This will make them more confident and they will try to face the problems in future rather than sitting with fear. You have to make them understand and believe that such scary situations are in-fact manageable.
- Phrase to use for such situation
You must know things that will help your child to calm down, or to make them feel confident and end the panic. You can use certain phrases in such situations to help them. For example – “This feeling will pass”.
Tell your child that it is not permanent and everything bad also passes eventually. They should not feel like they are stuck in a situation forever. They might feel stuck and would feel like its never-ending. Don’t let them think its “Too hard”. Tell them it’s okay to feel so but its not permanent and things always come back to normal. Try to focus on relief too when your child seems stressed.
These are some basic and most useful ways to deal with your child who is facing anxiety or panic. But in some cases, the child’s worries may seem to impact on their sleep or eating habits and even on school work. It can come to impacting their daily routine negatively. For such cases, you can seek support from mental health professional or counselor.