Every child experiences stress in some shape of form. For some children this stress can take root and begin to grow and become anxiety. Anxiety and stress are very common in adults and in children. What can a parent do to help their child handle stress and anxiety? I am not a doctor or psychiatrist. I’m just a mom with children who deal with anxiety. Here are a few tips that have worked for my family.
Listen and Encourage Them to Talk It out
If your child expresses they are anxious about a situation listen and respond appropriately. Listening will help them come to you in the future. Encourage them to talk about it. Sometimes putting a fear into words will provide the bridge to get past the anxiety causing issue. As you listen and encourage them to talk here are a few tips that may help with the conversation.
- Help them understand they wont have all the answers. Not having all the information can be stressful for an adult. Now imagine how much harder it can be to handle not knowing as a child with less experience. When a situation arises as you are talking to your child let them know that you and they may not have all the answers. Go over as much information as possible and then discuss the potential outcomes.
- Do not downplay their fear. Alot of times the initial response is to tell them its not a big deal or tell them to be brave. Instead of doing that listen to them and ask them what they are afraid of.
- Let them talk. As a parent our first instinct is to solve the problem for them. Allow your children to talk and allow them to think it thru at their own pace. Be there for them as a sounding board and to help them thru ideas and conversations. But ultimately allow them to reach their guided decision. This will help them be confident enough to face their fear.
Encourage them to face their fears
When anyone is afraid of a situation they tend to run away instead of dealing with it. Encourage your child to identify their fear and face it. Avoiding whatever situation that is causing the anxiety will actually increase the anxiety. Taking small steps to get used to the situation will help them to reach a level where the situation is not all consuming.
Make sure they know its OK not to be perfect
Everyone wants to do good. Children want to please their parents, friends, teachers. This can be overwhelming. It is always good to strive to achieve but as adults we need to remember kids need to be kids also. If they are working hard but it is not perfect make sure to let them know its their effort that counts not perfection.
Tell your kiddo about a time that you may have failed and what you learned from it. Let them know if they tried but failed its still ok as long as they tried their best. Praise their accomplishments. An accomplishment for a child who struggles in math may be a 70% on a test. Express how proud you are of their effort and not focus on the numbers. If they play sports Focus on a play they did or how hard they ran not on if they won or lost.
Equip them with Stress Reducing Methods
Stress and anxiety are going to occur. If your child experiences stress more than others providing them with stress reducing methods will be beneficial to their levels of anxiety. Here are a few methods
- Light Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers and help the body calm down and also sleep. This is turn helps lower stress levels
- Schedule downtime: Everyone needs time to decompress Scheduling time to relax lets your child know that relaxing and doing nothing is not only ok it is important It also gives a set end time to the stress at least for the day.
- Essential Oils: There are many essential oil blends that help a person relax. One of my favorite for my self during stressful parenting moments is called Liquid xanax.
- Worry Item (Beads, Rock): Repetitive motion can help calm anxiety. I have found a worry item to be immensely helpful to my kiddo with anxiety. It is a smooth rock he keeps in his pocket and can take out and rub when he is feeling anxious. You can buy them online on Amazon by clicking here 10 (TEN) Worry Stone Slab Mixed Stones – Thumb Stone – Palm Stone with RP Exclusive COA
- Practice Relaxation techniques: Enabling your child to control their anxiety is important. This can be with deep breathing exercises or doing other things that help them relax. My one son loves yoga.
Remember stress happens. No one is going to be able to avoid some form of stress. What is anxiety causing to your child may not see huge to you. Make sure to teach your child how to handle their anxiety in a healthy manner so it does not overwhelm them.