Being a parent is one of the hardest things you will have to do as an individual. You are responsible for someone’s life, someone you brought into this world. Caring for your child physically – feeding them, getting them dressed, cleaning up after them, dropping them off at school, or taking them to the park – might seem like the difficult part as it takes so much effort from your side, but it’s not. The real challenge is when you have to support and guide them emotionally. Your little one is quite new to this world and does not understand it fully. Their mind is fueled by imagination rather than logic. They look to you for comfort when they feel unsafe.
Many school-aged kids exhibit anxiety symptoms. They may have difficulty going to bed because they feel that there are monsters below their bed, or someone is peeping through their window. Even when you check below the bed and assure them that no one is outside, they seldom calm down. Some children may feel anxious about going to school as they may not be comfortable being around many people. Whatever the cause of their anxiety, their psychological health is affected in some way or the other. As a parent, it is your duty to make your little one feel safe in their environment. Since you will not be present with them all the time, you should equip them with the knowledge and confidence to handle their situation on their own. It is not an easy task and it might take weeks or even months for them to overcome their anxiety, but you have to be patient and help them. Here are some of the ways in which you can address your kid’s anxiety.
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1. Understand The Anxiety
Children exhibit fear and anxiety symptoms when they feel threatened. They are emotional responses when they perceive danger. You should figure out what is triggering this response, and note the intensity of the response. You cannot help your child if you don’t know what you are dealing with. Talk to them every day and talk about how they felt in a particular situation and what they wanted to do. Kid’s are not very cooperative and they have a short attention span. You should not expect answers right away. This is an important step and will take time. Be patient and don’t give up.
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2. Help Them Acknowledge Their Fears
Probe your child about their fears. Help them identify the reason behind their anxiety. If they feel stressed under certain situations, ask them why they feel like that. What exactly causes them to feel like that. For example, if they fear being in front of people, ask them why they feel like that. Are they afraid of being mocked, are they generally uncomfortable around people, or do they feel they are not good enough to stand in front of them. Try to point to the exact cause and help them acknowledge it.
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3. Stop Reassuring Them
Whenever your child becomes anxious about something, your general response is to reassure them that everything is fine. You do this almost every time they come to you with an issue. Their mind wants to trust and believe everything you say, but their fear takes over. They might do what you say at the moment, but they will not get over their fear. Anxiety will get the best of them again.
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4. Tell Them That Worry Is Good
Sit with your child and tell them that anxiety is not bad. They feel anxious about something because they have the power to overcome it. Reassure them that no one is perfect and everyone has fears. Tell them a story about how you were scared of something and how you overcame it. They will know that they are not the only ones who go have such feelings.
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5. Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Children solve problems everyday at school or at home. You need to make them look at their fears as a small problem that can be solved, instead of something that can take over and harm them. Create an action plan which helps your child take small steps toward solving the problem. Slowly condition them to the thing they feel anxious about. Take one step at a time.
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6. Personify Their Anxiety
Ignoring your child’s anxiety will only make it worse. You can personify the fear and build stories around it. Make your little one the protagonist, and let them fight the fear and defeat it. Let them know that only they have the power to conquer their fears and that they can do it on their own. Slowly let them take the lead and let them narrate their own stories in which they fight a heroic battle against their fears and win.
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7. Empower Them
Begin each day by telling them how great they are and how amazing their day is going to be. End the day by talking to them about what happened. Focus on the positive aspects of the day instead of the negative. If they encountered a situation that made them feel anxious, talk to them about it and ask them how they would have like to feel instead. Give them the confidence to overcome their fears. Let them know that they are in charge of their feelings and that can will feel exactly how they want to.
Be there for your child whenever you can. Listen to their problems and help them cope with them. You are a the best person to help your child as they trust you. Be strong and be creative in helping your child become a fearless, strong individual.