Anxiety

  • Anxiety

     

    Are you worrying about your anxious child? You are not alone. Anxiety is a very common problem facing children and adolescents today, but it is also the most treatable. If your child  is experiencing excessive fears and anxieties, there are some things that you can do to help.

    Without intervention, children tend to grow into their fears, not grow out of them. But once children have learned how to challenge worry's authority and outsmart the tricks the brain can play, they are no longer at the whim of their fearful imaginations. Today, kids with anxiety can learn the skills they need to lead a full and happy life and you can help them get there.



    1.       Respect and validate your child’s feelings!  Anxiety is a real emotion and not pleasant.

     2.       Teach your child deep, slow, belly breathing. This is an easy and very portable skill for self-soothing and calming.  “take a deep breath, hold it in and count to three, then pretend that you are blowing out birthday candles”

    3.       Listen to your child and ask “Tell me what you are thinking?”  This will help to reveal scary thoughts and scenes that build up in your child’s mind.

    4.       Rather than swooping to reassure, or dismissing their fearful feelings, ask your child “How likely is (that thing you’re afraid of) to happen?” You’ll be teaching him to challenge his anxious thinking.


    5.       Prompt your child with “Tell me some things you can do to handle this situation” and help her to brainstorm, rather than just giving her solutions.  She’ll feel empowered.


    6.       Give up the idea of “mental health days” “skip days” “sleep with mom nights” or other ways of avoiding feared situations.  This just makes the anxiety stick more firmly and lead to further avoidance.


    7.       Encourage your child’s attempts to be brave, no matter how small they may seem to you.  Use labeled praise such as “I’m so proud of you for sleeping in your own bed last night!”


    8.       Work with your child to outline small steps leading to a bigger goal.


    9.       Create opportunities for your child to practice being brave and coping, and then high-five his/her efforts!

    10.   Recognize when you, the adult, are anxious and say aloud what you can do to calm down and solve the situation.  You’ll be modeling coping strategies for your child, but be mindful not to overshare your anxiety!