The world is jointly becoming more conscious and aware of mental health. But are we shedding enough light on how this can affect children? Below are the common types of anxiety in children and ways to manage it.
Upset or anxious feelings when being left by parents or caregivers at playschool or school, play dates or even sleepovers.
Fear of rejection from other children, judgment and everyday social situations.
Irrational fears around a specific experience or thing, such as thunder or spiders, etc.
What can you do to help your child cope with anxiety?
Respect their feelings without empowering fears.
Parents can exacerbate anxiety simply by trying to protect their children from their fears. The goal is not to remove stressors that trigger anxiety, but to teach your children how to manage their anxiety or fears. As time goes by, the better they become at handling their own anxiety, the less power the stressors will have and so often times you will find that the stressors lose (all) power.
If, for example, a child cries when being brought to school or becomes fearful if a spider is near, try not to swoop in and “rescue” them. Teach them to deal with the situation in a calm and logical manner. Level with them. Distract them. Show them there is nothing to be afraid of. All the while, showing them that you understand their concern and their feelings. Don’t belittle, but don’t amplify. With empathy, discuss and name your child’s fear with them. Show them that you understand their position on the matter. Then, offer your child encouraging words and boost their confidence. Reassure them that they are safe and that you are there to help them overcome their fears.
You’ll maybe find that the lead up to a certain anxious situation is often more intense than the situation itself. Try to reduce (or even if possible, eliminate) the anticipatory period.
In other situations, you might find that it can help to discuss the dreaded situations. For example, if your child is afraid of going back to school, talk about school with your child. Look at school photos and ask them to pick out their friends and tell you about them. This will ease the dread or fear around going to playschool or school.