We live in an age where anxiety is rife – economic and political instability, newsfeeds running 24/7 that make us not only excruciatingly aware of the darker side of life, but also place ridiculous pressures on us to achieve stellar goals and look a million dollars at the same time. Add in the relentless pressure to be both gorgeous and zany on TikTok, Snapchat and in the coolest group chats, and it’s really no surprise that so many of our children are suffering from anxiety.
It can be so painful to watch from the side-lines, feeling utterly helpless.
So how can we help our kids manage their anxiety? What can we do to make it better (and moreover, not make it worse)? We’ve put together a list of our 8 best tips to help them – and you:
- Help them recognise that anxiety is a normal part of life and that it passes in time. Help them to put in place coping mechanisms to manage themselves until they return to a calmer state. How’s their breathing? Get a piece of paper. Get them to breath in as they run their finger along the top of the page, breathe out as they go down the edge, in at the bottom and out as they run to the top. Repeat until they become calmer.
- Make plans for specific situations. If they are going to a school event that might feel overwhelming – talk through the event. What will they wear? Who will be there? How might they feel? What can they do to feel better – do they have a friend who will meet them beforehand? Can they take their phone so that they can call you if needed or listen to music on their headphones if they feel panicked?
- Ask – “What is the worst that can happen?” – and then either have a giggle together at the ridiculous nature of our minds (boy – can we go to some dark places) or put some strategies together to deal with the outcomes.
- Don’t encourage them to avoid anxious situations. Yes, sometimes it might be advisable to stay away and give ourselves a break – but we don’t want this to become the default. Anxiety is often about anticipation. Once the issue is confronted, then the anxiety fades.
- On the same lines – minimise the time for pre-event anxiety. If your child has a phobia of injections, don’t tell them about a doctor’s appointment that’s a week away. Tell that morning or the night before. And by the way – don’t be tempted to spring it on them just before the appointment – we all need time to prepare and cope better as a result. If you have to put up with some wailing and shouting – then so be it – but do allow them the time they need to get ready.
- Don’t focus on the anxiety. If they are going to be terrified of the injection – that’s fine – acknowledge it…. But don’t feed in to it (“I always hated needles”) or give them the impression that this is something they ought to feel fearful about.
- Applaud their courage. Acknowledge that you know that they are fearful and that it takes a lot to face up to those fears.
- Model healthy ways to deal with anxiety yourself. We unwittingly pass our own fears and phobias on to our children. If you are anxious – get some help. Not only can you help your kids, but you deserve also all the help and support you need.
There we have it, 8 ways to help your anxious children. There is plenty of help available to children suffering from anxiety and to parents in order to help support their children. We also offer audios which are designed to help children (and parents) feel relaxed, build their confidence and resilience in order to not only cope better with everyday challenges but really enjoy life!