Is your child afraid of going to school? Is he unusually clingy and moody? Does he get scared easily? Well, if these sound familiar to you, chances are your child is having problems dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety is something we experience at various times in our lives. You do remember the anxiousness you felt as a child, do you? Well, some children are just born with an anxious temperament and are anxious all the time. I know I was. The problem with anxiety in children is that it can go unnoticed by parents and other adults, and as a result, these children would not receive the guidance they desperately need to manage it. Severe anxiety can harm the child’s mental and emotional wellbeing, and as a result, affect their self-esteem and confidence. Untreated anxiety can lead to other issues as a child grows up, so it is very important that we find ways to help children cope and tolerate anxiety.
There is no way we can totally eliminate anxiety in a child, or an adult for that matter. The thing we can do, is to help manage it. By encouraging the child to face fears and do things he’s anxious about, you can help the child learn how to tolerate stressful situations. Of course, wait until your child is actually feeling anxious before you step in to help. Children sometimes surprise us with their ability to cope.
When you notice that the child is anxious, talk to the child in a calming voice (this really helps). Find out what upsets the child and comfort the child without judging him/her (don’t tell the child his/her fears are ridiculous). Acknowledge the child’s fear; don’t dismiss or ignore it. Do not push. Gently guide the child toward facing the stressful situation. Although you never want to be over protective, there may actually be times when it is appropriate to remove the child from the situation entirely. Do some fact checking and use your intuition before taking action.
There are actually books that can help children deal with anxiety and manage their fears. Take Ethel K Coffey’s book Cloud Watchers for instance. One of the characters, a dog named Baylee, was experiencing anxiety. She went on a journey to find a wise old coyote who helped her to regain her happiness. The book shows us how focusing on nature can soothe our anxiety. We are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other natural elements soothing. We are calmed and comforted by nature.
Acknowledge your child’s fears. Be empathic and help the child understand that being anxious is normal. Guide him in working through stressful situations. Show him how to focus on something in nature that helps him to feel calm and at peace.
Article written by: Litfire Publishing