Anxiety in Children and Young People is on the Increase and all Parents need strategies to cope and combat
Often children and young people act like they don’t have a care in the world, and other times they may be overwhelmed with worry and stress. Although the stresses of adulthood are not the same as those of adults, they do feel anxiety in very similar ways. Solving these issues is not an option, it’s a must!
What Creates Anxiety in Children?
It may be helpful to understand why children and teenagers develop anxieties in the first place. Perhaps you can change certain aspects of their upbringing that will make it less likely for them to develop patterns of anxiety in the future. It’s not always easy to spot the signs if they are not that obvious, but there is unlikely some behavioural leakage at certain times and points.
Children/Teens can start to feel anxious and fearful in situations where they’re taught to feel that way. What is called ‘learned behaviours’. Their intuitive brain is also really good at picking up on the emotions of others. If a parent or close friend is acting upset and fearful in a certain situations, the child/teen may learn to copy and replicate the same behaviour unconsciously and without being aware of it.
Children can also learn anxiety from media sources such as television, movies, or video games. For example, TV shows and video games that are meant for older children or adults often contain scenes of suspense, horror or violence that can severely frighten a young child. As a result, they can develop many anxieties as a result.
Here are some strategies you can use to help your child overcome their anxieties:
Help your child relax. A child will feel anxiety when they’re stressed. Explore different options for helping your child relax, then allow them to enjoy these relaxing games or hobbies. The activity you choose may be different for every child, or different depending on the day.
Find a distraction. When your child feels anxious all of a sudden, do something to distract them from the situation at hand. If you’re out in public and they start to panic, perhaps you can engage them in a conversation about something they like or distract them with a toy or something of interest in your surroundings. If you’re at home, try a fun game. Be creative!
Avoid pushing your children. You might find that you’re pushing your child to behave a certain way without ever realising it. It’s more common than you think! Be positive around your child and free them from unnecessary pressure.
If you need to make a change, do it gradually so it isn’t shocking to the child.
Schedule “worry time.” This activity works well for adult anxieties too. Schedule a time during the day that is designated “worry time,” where your child can worry and vent. Your job is to listen to your child and help them sort out their feelings. Avoid making deeper issues out of things.
This technique is also helpful because, when a child is worrying, you can tell them that they’re allowed to worry but they just need to wait for the designated time. They may not even feel worried anymore when the time comes.
Build confidence. Help your child build their confidence. When you’re feeling confident, it’s difficult to feel anxious or scared. If your child begins to feel confident instead of anxious, they’ll begin to have a positive attitude about themselves. This will also help them when they’re faced with fearful situations again in the future.
When you help your child learn how to overcome anxieties while they’re young, you also teach them an important skill that will be of great benefit for the rest of their life. Not only will they have a happier childhood, but they’ll also be a stronger, more confident, and happier adult.
Big smiles! Annette x
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