Anxiety is a normal part of life that will come up in many various situations. It can be healthy to experience anxiety in some situations because it can help you recognize and respond to potential danger, as well as it can help motivate you to complete tasks on time. However, anxiety can become overwhelming and make it difficult to live daily life, which indicates that they may have an anxiety disorder. If your child seems to have an anxiety disorder, you might be wondering how to help them manage it. In this article, we will look at some tips for how to help your child with their anxiety.
Help Identify Their Anxiety Triggers
When someone has an anxiety disorder, they have certain triggers that will make them feel intense anxiety and might even cause a panic attack. Work with your child to identify their triggers because that can help you help them.
Validate and Empathize with Their Feelings
Your child’s thoughts and emotions are real to them. What you think and feel about their experiences does not matter; your child needs to feel heard, understood, and validated by you. Empathize with them, take the time to make sure that you recognize their feelings, and help them sort through their thoughts and emotions. If they feel like they cannot come to you, this can make their anxiety worse.
It is crucial that you never label their thoughts or emotions as being either good or bad. Do not tell them that it is bad to think they might fail at something because if they start thinking those thoughts are bad, it can become internalized and potentially make their anxiety worse. Also, never try to minimize their anxiety or tell them to just suck it up. Their anxiety is real and makes them suffer.
Challenge Their Unhelpful Worries
One symptom of anxiety is over-worrying and falling down a “what if” rabbit hole. When talking through your child’s anxious thoughts, challenge any worries and thoughts that are unhelpful. For example, if they are obsessively worrying about failing a test, try to identify thoughts that will help them work through this anxiety, like asking if they have ever failed a test in that class before or what they did to pass tests in that class before. This will help them rethink their thoughts and help them work through the anxiety. Make sure you are not invalidating their thoughts and feelings in the process; just help gently challenge these thoughts for them.
Help Them Break Tasks Down
When you have anxiety, a bigger project can feel like a daunting task that can trigger you, which is why breaking down tasks can be so helpful. However, this can be difficult for a child to do on their own. One great way to help your child with their anxiety is to work with them to break tasks down, so jobs do not seem as big. For example, instead of “clean your room,” break it down into steps, like “pick up your toys, make the bed, pick up your laundry.” If their homework seems overwhelming to them, you can help them break that down into smaller tasks too. Making things a little more “bite-sized” can help reduce their anxiety.
Help Build Their Overall Confidence
Building up your child’s confidence can help them feel a little more secure when their anxiety begins to trigger. Have your child perform various tasks around the house to contribute, and try to give them opportunities to face challenges. Do not focus on the results; focus on the efforts. The point of this is to challenge them to do something new, not that they do it perfectly. If they get stuck, ask them what skills they have used to overcome similar challenges in the past, to build their confidence that they can do this.
Help Your Child Practice Deep Breathing
Taking a few deep breaths can help your child focus on the task at hand and clear their head when they are feeling anxious. Tell them to take a few deep breaths, take a slow breath in through their nose and out through their mouth, and repeat this several times until they feel a little calmer. Rootd can help you guide your child through this.
Role Play Stressful Scenarios
Is there a specific scenario that your child is getting anxious about? Try role playing through these scenarios to help them prepare for these in advance. These can induce ordering food at a restaurant, asking their teacher for help, inviting friends over, or buying movie tickets. Doing this can help them mentally prepare for the situation in real life, and it might help their anxiety.