Anxiety is not only a state experienced by adults. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that one in eight children experience anxiety attacks. If left unresolved and unattended, these experiences may result in poor academic performance and social withdrawal. Parents play an important role in their children’s lives. With the proper support, love and attention, you can help your child live an anxiety-free life and enjoy his childhood fully.
Here are four simple, but effective, methods to help your anxious child:
1. Engage in play while talking to your child
It is difficult for children to verbalize how they feel. Often, you will only notice that your child is anxious based on evident manifestations, such as reports of stomachaches or ongoing headaches.
It is important to know your child’s situation and determine the cause of the anxiety. Interrogating your child in a serious tone and making him/her feel investigated is not the best way to go. The way to a child’s heart is through play. With this, you are placing your child in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, gaining his trust and allowing him to open up to you freely.
2. Show your support and understanding
You do not want to make your child feel foolish or silly for having anxiety. Instead, it is important that you take his concerns seriously. Therefore, making your child feel at ease with you is a huge step needed if you will help your child work through his anxieties. When your child feels your love and support, he will feel secure and safe despite the anxious feelings. In turn, you will be able to boost your child’s self-confidence in facing the cause of his anxiety.
3. Systemic desensitization
Systemic Desensitization is a method used by professionals such as psychiatrists to help people with phobias (irrational fear) overcome their anxiety.
You can also use this approach with your child. However, you may want to do it at a slower pace compared to when done with adults. Prior to using this method, talk to your child first and tell him what both of you are about to do. Make it a point to assure him repeatedly that mommy and daddy will be with him throughout the entire process and that there is nothing to be afraid of.
If your child has fear of bugs or crawling insects, let him see them and tell him why he should not be scared of such small animals. During your next sessions, you may do the same thing again until such time that he is no longer afraid of even touching bugs. Never push your child to do something that he is not comfortable with, or the process will backfire and end up taking longer to complete successfully.
4. Compliment and reward your child
To inspire your child to overcome his anxiety, you need to commend and reward him for the effort. Tell him that he is doing a great job and to continue being brave.
Be patient and do not become disappointed in your child if he is taking a long time to work through his anxieties.
To conclude, these are four simple techniques that can help your child in a big way. If your child remains anxious even after trying this, it is best to consider seeking the assistance of a professional.