Calming your Anxious Child

February 23, 2016

The numbers are in.  Our kids are anxious.  Well, at least 20% of school-age children show common signs of being anxious.  An even larger number of children experience stress that does not qualify as an anxiety disorder. As adults, we also have our fair share of stress and anxiety.  Thankfully, most of us have learned coping mechanism or have a way of working off the anxiety.  So, how can you help to reduce your child’s anxiety and teach them coping methods that can help them deal with speed bumps that life will throw at them?

  • Teach Relaxation Techniques and Activities — We all have things we love to do that blow off steam.  Some of us run, walk, read, listen to music or paint.  Others have developed their own unique methods to work off anxiety.  Help your child find what makes them less stressed whether it is free play time, coloring, playing video games, swinging on a swing, or exercise of some kind.  Talk about what makes you feel better.
  • Focus on the Positive – Remind your child that when they are struggling or even failing that they are still learning.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Point out all the things that your child excels at whether it is sports, video games, school, dance etc..  Show your child that everyone can’t be perfect in every way.
  • Encourage Facing a Fear – No one likes to walk into situations that make them anxious.  However, facing a fear or anxiety provoking situation may end up helping a child conquer that fear.  The body cannot remain anxious for a very long period of time so there is a system in the body that calms the body down. Usually your anxiety will reduce within 20-45 minutes if you stay in the anxiety-provoking situation.
  • Have a Comfort Item – We all have comfort items.  When I was little it was a stuffed bunny, today it is a picture of my kids playing.  Encourage your child to keep a comfort item close by when they are feeling anxious. Just the sight of it may be enough to bring a little peace to the situation.
  • Practice Breathing and Visualization Techniques – Many people who experience anxiety on a regular basis find strength in specialized visualizations and breathing exercises that can bring the heart rate down and may relax muscles.  Every child is unique and brings their own set of anxieties to each situation, so help your child find a picture in their mind that will evoke happiness and help them handle each situation in a calmer manner.