5 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Anxiety
Children tend to become anxious easily, and they are ill-equipped to deal well with that anxiety. Helping your child through the tough spots is one of the most important aspects of parenting.
1. Talk Everyday
Children who are prone to anxiety are almost desperate to share and question every day. Leave extra time at bedtime to talk about the day’s events and draw out the thoughts and ideas your child is harboring. Bedtime is the perfect time for these sorts of conversations because it is a quiet time that is usually one-on-one. This is just the environment your child needs to open up about his worries. And when you talk to your child, give him time to get everything out and don’t just pat him on the head and whisper assurances. Give him detailed thoughts and explanations about what will and won’t possibly happen. Information and details often help the anxious child work through a situation in his head and find resolution.
2. Never Laugh at Fears
When a child is anxious, it might feel funny that he’s scared of something most rational adults would find silly. But your child is not a rational adult. He doesn’t see the humor if his fear of the vacuum cleaner, and if you think back, you might remember that you were once afraid of having your feet sucked into the vacuum cleaner as well. No matter how hilarious the situation is, play it close to the vest. Keep calm and quiet about it so that you can help him work through his fears. In the case of the vacuum, help him understand how it is used and its limitations. Experiment with different objects to see what can be sucked up. Let him run the vacuum for a bit to try it out himself. Again, knowledge is power, and humiliation will actually make a child feel more anxious.
Exercise is a great way to beat stress and anxiety. It works well on adults and helps children as well. Family exercise is a great option. End every day with a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Really move and keep those little legs moving right beside you. By the end of the walk, you’ll have worked up a bit of a sweat and he’ll have had a chance to burn off some steam, and hopefully some anxiety as well.
4. Build Confidence
Those who have stores of confidence tend to feel less anxious than others. Help your child learn his place at the top of the heap by reminding him daily of his strengths and help him to grow in positive ways. You can do this by praising his efforts and results. If he tries something new, praise him for being so bold and daring. If he brings you a beautiful picture he’s created, praise him for being such a brilliant artist and so on. Nobody gets tired of compliments, and so long as you sincerely mean each one, they will soak in and boost your child up in many different ways.
5. Practice Problem-Solving
For some children, creative solutions to problems come naturally, but for others, they can use a bit of help finding ways to figure things out. When a tough problem emerges, don’t rush to your child’s aid. If the situation isn’t dangerous, stand back for a minute to see what happens. Is your child helpless in the face of a challenge or is he trying to find a solution? Does your child try different things to work it out or simply wait to be rescued? The child waiting to be rescued who can’t seem to do it on his own will always feel more anxious than the problem solver.
You can work on problem solving skills in many ways. Ask your child to always try to solve the problem first before you help. Ask him to talk it out as he works and offer suggestions. The first few times he solves a difficult problem by himself are life-changing. Learning that there are solutions to most of life’s problems is a lesson some adults need to remember. Children who learn to find solutions worry less about things – they just start working to figure it out.