Do you have a child that struggles with anxiety? You're not alone. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 13 people around the world experience anxiety.
As a parent, it can be difficult to know what to do to help my child who has anxiety. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to support your child and help them better manage their anxious feelings. In this blog post, I will share 7 tips to help your child cope with anxiety.
1) Don't avoid things that make them anxious
When children experience anxiety, it's natural to want to protect them and keep them away from whatever it is that's causing them distress. However, this can backfire, as avoiding the situation or person can further increase their fear. The best way to help your child cope with their anxiety is to slowly introduce them to the source of their fear in a safe, supportive environment.
Encourage them to face their fear step by step, starting with small, manageable tasks and gradually working up to larger challenges. This approach helps them to gain confidence and eventually overcome their anxiety. Additionally, provide reassurance and be there to support them throughout the process.
2) Use language as a tool
The words you use when speaking to your child can have a significant impact on how they feel. It is important to choose your words carefully and thoughtfully to help your child manage their anxiety. Avoid using sentences like, you are always anxious or anxiety is part of who you are.
When talking to your child, try to emphasize the positive and use phrases such as “I know this feels difficult right now but it won’t last forever.” You can also suggest ways for them to reframe negative thoughts and talk about how to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Acknowledge that it is OK to feel anxious and reassure them that everyone experiences these feelings from time to time.
It is also important to limit the use of language that could make them feel more anxious. Avoid phrases like “you should be able to do this easily” or “just get over it”. These kinds of phrases can be dismissive and invalidating, which could make your child feel worse about themselves.
Instead, remind them that it is ok to make mistakes and that it is part of the process of learning and growing. Use language that validates their feelings and reinforces that their emotions are valid and normal.
3) Teach them relaxation techniques
One of the best ways to help your child cope with anxiety is to teach them relaxation techniques. These techniques can help to reduce their overall stress levels and make it easier for them to manage their anxious thoughts and feelings.
For younger children, try deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Deep breathing can be done by having them sit comfortably and take a slow, deep breath in through the nose for a count of five, hold the breath for a count of two, then slowly release the breath for a count of five. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing the muscles from head to toe to help relax the body.
Older children can benefit from mindfulness meditation or visualization exercises. Mindfulness can help by focusing on the present moment and being aware of one’s own thoughts and feelings without judgment. Visualization exercises involve having your child close their eyes and imagine a place that makes them feel safe and peaceful, such as a beach or meadow. This exercise can help them focus on positive feelings and let go of anxious thoughts.
4) Help them develop a positive self-image
It’s important to help your child develop a positive self-image. A positive self-image can be developed through praise, encouragement, and recognition of accomplishments. When your child is feeling anxious, it’s important to focus on the good things they do and recognize their successes. Praise your child when they do something well and encourage them to take on new challenges.
It’s also important to remind your child that mistakes are part of learning and growing. Let them know that it’s ok to make mistakes and that there is always a chance to try again. Remind them of their strengths and support them as they face their fears and challenge themselves.
You can also help your child develop a positive self-image by exposing them to positive messages. Positive messages can come in the form of books, articles, films, or even conversations with other people. The idea is to get them to see themselves in a positive light. When your child feels better about themselves, they will be more likely to take on challenges and develop confidence.
Finally, don’t forget to practice self-care for yourself. It’s important for you to be healthy, so you can be the best parent for your child. Taking care of yourself will help you stay strong and better able to provide the necessary support for your child.
5) Modelling calm behavior
It can be difficult to remain calm when your child is struggling with anxiety, but it is incredibly important to model calm behavior. Show them that you understand how they’re feeling and that you can stay calm and compassionate in the face of difficult emotions. Speak calmly, be patient and understanding, and allow your child to take their time.
Make sure to also practice self-care so that you can stay as relaxed and composed as possible. Take breaks to practice relaxation techniques, take some deep breaths, or get some fresh air. This will help you model calm behavior for your child and give them the strength and courage to cope with their anxiety.
6) Avoid making them feel like they're different
It can be easy to want to protect your child from any kind of anxiety or mental health struggles, but it’s important to remember that these are very common experiences and your child is not alone. Let them know that everybody has different levels of anxiety and that it’s okay to feel the way they do. Avoid comparing them to their siblings or peers who may not have the same difficulties. Make sure that they understand that everyone faces different challenges and it’s not something to be ashamed of. Reassure them that you love and accept them no matter what. Showing your unconditional support will help them to open up more and be less afraid of speaking out about their feelings.
7) Hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool that can help your child cope with their anxiety. This type of therapy uses guided relaxation techniques to access the subconscious mind, allowing them to make changes in thought patterns and behaviors. During a hypnotherapy session, your child will be asked to relax and focus on positive images and suggestions. This helps to create new neural pathways in the brain, replacing negative thoughts and behaviors with healthier ones.
Hypnotherapy can also be used to uncover the root cause of the anxiety, allowing your child to explore and release feelings associated with past traumatic events. This can be beneficial for both physical and psychological issues. For example, if your child is experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety such as tension headaches or digestive problems, hypnotherapy can help to relieve those symptoms by helping to reduce the underlying stress or anxiety.
Overall, hypnotherapy can provide a safe, non-invasive way to help your child cope with their anxiety. It's important to keep in mind that it may take multiple sessions before seeing significant results. However, when combined with other strategies, such as relaxation techniques, positive thinking and healthy lifestyle habits, hypnotherapy can help your child manage their anxiety in a healthier way.
If you need extra help, here are the most popular sessions on the MamaZen app for dealing with anxiety:
For the Parents
De-Stress & Relax
Overcome Anxiety & Overwhelm
Release Anxiety Now
Stress Less About the Mess
Re-Centering During Uncertain Times
Let Go of Anxiety & Fears
For Your Child
Whisper Away the Worry, Ages 4-7
Overcome Fears, Ages 4-7
No More Anxious Feelings, Ages 8-12
Throw Away Anxious Feelings, Ages 8-12
Wash Away the Worry, Ages 8-12
Release Anxiety & Gain Confidence, Ages 13-18
Wash Away the Worry, Ages 13-18
Anxiety can be a difficult emotion for children to deal with. It can be hard for parents to know how best to help their child cope with this feeling. However, there are several steps parents can take to help their child feel more in control of their anxiety.
Avoiding the things that make your child anxious is not the solution. Instead, try to use language as a tool and talk to them about their emotions. Teaching them relaxation techniques and helping them develop a positive self-image can also be beneficial. Modelling calm behavior and avoiding making them feel like they're different are also important factors.
Lastly, hypnotherapy can be an option if the anxiety becomes overwhelming or unmanageable. With these tips in mind, you can provide your child with the support they need to navigate their emotions.
Irin Rubin is a motherhood expert and the co-founder of the app MamaZen. Her passion is helping parents and their kids to live a happy and mindful life.
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