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- Childhood anxiety can be treated, but the challenge is to recognize it
- How does anxiety affect your child’s academics?
- What’s the most effective way to treat children with anxiety?
- How can I cope with an anxious child?
- All work and no play: Why your kids are anxious
- How to discipline a child with anxiety
- How to help your child with school anxiety
- Should my anxious child go on medication?
Having a child with anxiety can be hard on the parents too. Perhaps you are an empathetic person that feels the feelings of those around you. Or perhaps it hurts you to see your child struggling. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel it’s difficult to have a child with anxiety because his or her problems CAN disrupt your life. These are all normal feelings that come and go with the ups and downs of life with a child with anxiety. Here are some strategies that will help you cope with the challenges of having a child with anxiety.
The strategies will depend on your child (Tiffany Cook)
As parents, the biggest help to coping with an anxious child would be to remember that everyone has anxieties and fears, but they have reached the level or irrationality in your child. This means they need your help, not your anger or embarrassment. Secondly, what works for one person may not work for another.
If you, for example, were anxious as a child and you have tried strategies on your child that worked for you without success, keep your frustration in check. Your child, though a product of you, is still a unique individual.
Also, do not be afraid to ask for help from a trained therapist or child psychologist. They can help you talk about your own feelings and coach you on how to help your child. They can also help your child directly on how to talk about their feelings by asking them leading questions or encouraging them to keep a daily journal. Play and/or art therapy have been shown to be very helpful in uncovering the source of anxieties and fears in younger children so that you can help them make sense of their fears and support them in facing them.
Get yourself some support (Kereth Harris)
I get asked this often and I don’t really have an answer. What I did find incredibly supportive was surrounding myself with people who understood or didn’t judge us, or the decisions we made. Our therapist was our lifesaver at times, as were our family and friends.
Coping with an anxious child is tough, but each and every child is a special human, and they are your special human. Remember too, at times you don’t have to cope. If the proverbial hits the fan, you are allowed to have a tantrum as well. You are a special human being too, after all.
You may need to make changes to your life (Lesley Scott)
Having an anxious child can be stressful for the whole family. It is our nature as parents to want to protect them and we must be careful that we empower our children rather than over-protect them.
Your routine may be disrupted, and you may have to make accommodations for your child’s anxiety. There are some things that you can do daily to help everyone cope more effectively. These include:
- Be prepared: Make sure everyone knows in advance what the plans are.
- Be flexible: Maintain your routine, but know that you may be a bit late or need to provide some additional encouragement.
- Praise accomplishments: recognize when your child has overcome their fear.
- Plan ahead: make sure there is time to accommodate stressful transitions.
- Stay calm: this is especially important when your child becomes anxious.
While we can sometimes avoid triggers for anxiety, sometimes it is necessary to face these triggers so that your child can learn some coping skills. A child needs to know that you cannot guarantee success–they may fail their test or fall off their bike, but you can express your belief that they can do something, while still reassuring them that if they fail, that is also okay, as long as they continue to try.
Take care of yourself too (Amanda Whittington)
Anxiety can be disabling, but your child is much more than his or her anxiety. Of course, as their parent and advocate, you will do whatever you need to help them cope. But you need to do a few things to help yourself and your family cope, as well. Find ways to take care of yourself, even if you can only squeeze in a few minutes a day. Make sure you exercise, eat well, and do something enjoyable. Stay in touch with friends, even if you have to be the one to reach out.
Remember that your child’s anxiety is going to disrupt your daily routine sometimes, and that’s okay. Just give yourself plenty of grace for doing the best you can, even when you make mistakes. Educate yourself and those in your child’s life so that you both have plenty of support to make it through the hard days.