How to Manage Anxiety

This article provides insights into anxiety management for children and teens, emphasizing the role of parents in supporting their young ones. It highlights practical strategies to help children cope with anxiety, fostering resilience and promoting a balanced approach to addressing their fears.

7/31/20236 min read

white and black i am a good girl card
white and black i am a good girl card

Anxiety Management

Anxiety is a feeling of unease or fear that is accompanied by a range of physiological, psychological, and emotional symptoms. Every kid and teen goes through it occasionally; it's a normal developmental stage. Young children may have periods of increased anxiety, such as the first day of school or right before a test, but they will soon be able to calm down and feel better.

Anxiety can become an issue for young people when they feel trapped by it or when it overwhelms, disturbs, or becomes uncontrollable. If this worry lasts for a long time and makes a young person feel exhausted and alone, their capacity for action may be reduced.

You may help your child struggling with anxiety by providing them with emotional support, helping them create practical coping skills, and finding the finest professional help if necessary.

Parents play a key and essential role when it comes to helping children with anxiety issues. One of the most crucial things parents can do to assist their children is to prevent unwittingly promoting their fear. The traditional way young people respond to fear or anxiety is to rely on their parents for support, which is a child's natural response to worry. In contrast to adults, children cannot flee or fight in the face of terror; they must instead employ self-defense. Children are designed to communicate their fear to their parent or other adult caregiver so that the adult can protect and reassure the youngster until the apparent danger has passed. Furthermore, parents are wired to spot signs of fear in their children and to step in to provide protection and emotional stability.

However, a youngster with an anxiety disorder experiences fear even in situations or places that don't require such a strong response. And what happens is that the parent makes accommodations in response to the child's distress. That suggests that the parent responds to the event differently than usual to help the child.

Suppose, for example, that a youngster with social anxiety exhibits discomfort or fear in a socially acceptable environment, like a trip to a theme park or a kid's party. The parent, aware of the child's worry, decides to stay close to reassure the child.

Another instance: In a restaurant, a child with social anxiety may speak for the child through their parent. Accommodation would be that. Instead of helping the youngster face their fears and worries, the parent unknowingly allows them to evade their unease.

Being supportive rather than accommodating is the goal. And parents need to hear that message from us. If you permit a socially anxious youngster to skip school or refuse to participate in family activities, you encourage avoidance. This increases worry.

Making the worry more tolerable is helpful. Instead, you encourage the child to approach the issue in small increments. Pay attention to the child and demonstrate that you are aware of any possible fear or discomfort they may be feeling but that you have faith in their ability to handle it.

Equally important is being honest with the child in an age-appropriate way and without over-informing them. Children must receive information in a way that avoids misunderstanding gaps. Children's views, which may be inaccurate and anxiety-inducing, are filled in by gaps.

The requirement is more significant if your child has a generalized anxiety condition and worries excessively about everything, such as becoming fixated on what would happen if their mother were to fall unwell and be unable to pick them up from school. Instead of telling the child that Mom never gets sick, the parent can say, "I'm not sick, but if I ever became sick, I'd work very hard to get better." If I am unavailable to take you up, Aunt Jane will. Or maybe you'll take the child to the doctor so they can give him an injection. Stay away from stating, "It won't hurt." Say something like, "I know you're brave and can handle it; it could hurt a little" instead.

It's essential to consider the detrimental effects of adopting a child's illness on the rest of the family. One parent must stay home if a socially nervous youngster declines to go to a cousin's birthday party so the other parent can bring a sibling. A worried child won't allow his parents to eat dinner out. Although it may seem easier to appease the child now, doing so will ultimately worsen their anxiety problem.

Anxiety Management Strategies

Here are some recommendations to help kids end the cycle of anxiety.

The Goal Is To Help A Child Manage Their Anxiety Rather Than Eliminate It.

While no one likes to see a child suffer, trying to protect them from the circumstances that lead to anxiety isn't the best course of action. It seeks to teach kids how to cope with their anxiety and go about their daily lives as usual as they can. And as a result, the anxiety will eventually fade.

Don't Just Disregard Something Because A Child Expresses Worry About It.

Helping children avoid what they are afraid of will make them feel better in the short term but worsen their anxiety in the long run. Consider a small child who experiences discomfort and starts to cry – not intentionally, but because that is how they feel. The child learns a coping mechanism when their parents whisk them away or take away what they are afraid of. And there is a possibility that the cycle will continue.

Declare Expectations That Are Optimistic But Reasonable.

You can't reassure a child that their concerns are unfounded—that they won't err on a test, that ice skating will be fun, or that another child won't ridicule them during the show and tell—nor can you guarantee that they won't make a mistake. You might reassure them that everything will be okay and that they can handle it. Additionally, you can reassure them that as they face their problems, the intensity of their anxiety will eventually subside. Doing this may reassure them that you have acceptable standards and won't ask them to do something they can't handle.

Respect Their Feelings, But Don't Empower Them.

It's important to understand that validation is different from agreement. As a result, if a small child is afraid of going to the doctor because they need a shot, you shouldn't downplay their concerns either. Your objective should be to understand them, assist them in identifying the cause of their anxiety, and provide them with the self-assurance they require to deal with their concerns. "I am aware of your fear, and it's acceptable. You want to deliver the message: "I'm here, and I'm going to assist you in getting through this.

Steer Clear Of Directional Questions.

Encourage your youngster to share their feelings, but avoid probing queries like, "Are you anxious about the big test? Do you hesitate to enter the scientific fair? To stop feeding the worry loop, ask open-ended inquiries like, "How do you feel about the science fair?"

Don't Increase The Child's Anxiety.

Your voice tone and body language shouldn't give the impression that you should be scared of this. Consider a toddler who has a negative recollection of a dog. You worry that they'll misbehave the next time they're near a dog and inadvertently suggest that they should be worried.

Encourage The Child To Overcome Their Fear.

Tell your youngster you recognize the effort it takes to overcome fear and do what they want or need to. They are actively urged to engage in life and let their anxiety grow organically. As long as he stays in touch with the "habituation curve," the stressor will ultimately start to drop. That is how we get past our fears, though. It might not go away entirely or disappear as quickly as expected.

Attempt To Cut The Waiting Time In Half.

The moment before we take action is typically the hardest when addressing our concerns? As a general rule, parents should reduce or altogether avoid the anticipatory phase. A scared little child shouldn't be brought up in a talk about going to the doctor two hours before you really go because it will probably only make them more upset. So make every effort to reduce that time.

Talk About Problems with the Child.

Sometimes it might be helpful to discuss what would happen and how a youngster would respond if their fear came true. When kids are reluctant to leave their parents, they could worry about what might happen if they aren't picked up. So we talk about that. If your mother didn't show up after soccer practice, what would you do? I'd let the coach know that my mum wasn't there. What do you think the coach would do in that situation? He might call my mother, then. He may wait with me as well. If a parent is concerned that a stranger may be sent to pick up their child, they might give their youngster a code word that will be known by whoever they send. Making a plan may help some kids feel less uncertain in a constructive way.

Conclusion

Anxiety is a natural developmental stage that every child and adolescent experiences. However, it can become troublesome when anxiety overwhelms and interferes with daily living. By offering emotional support, imparting applicable coping mechanisms, and seeking professional assistance as needed, parents play a significant part in helping their children suffering from anxiety. Parents must balance reassuring their children and giving them the tools to face their anxieties, avoiding accommodations that fuel worry. Instead, parents should encourage kids to control their anxiety and progressively confront their concerns because they know that with time and assistance, anxiety may lessen, and kids can learn how to deal with obstacles with fortitude. Children can be helped to control their anxiety and lead satisfying lives by having open communication, reasonable expectations, and shortening anticipatory waiting times. Parents can significantly contribute to their child's journey toward anxiety management by creating a supportive and understanding atmosphere.