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Get Rid of Anxiety in Children

1 August
Posted by:
Michael Grose

For those with no personal experience of anxiety it can be hard to understand how debilitating it can be.

“Come on, get on with it” seems so obvious. Of course, this response is nowhere near adequate.
Around one in ten children struggle with anxiety. Nearly 50% of adult sufferers of anxiety say it began in childhood.

Presumably, they weren’t taught the skills to cope as kids so anxiety took hold.

Most kids like adults, experience some anxious moments or have fearful thoughts and feelings from time to time about certain events. These thoughts and feelings prompt them to proceed with caution rather than rush in where angels fear to tread.

But anxiety and fear can be paralyzing. Some children simply can’t stop their ‘bad thoughts and feelings’. They can’t silence the voice of fear that whispers to them continually.

Parents are an obvious choice to help children overcome anxious moments. Remember, anxiety is a normal part of life and can be managed, but it takes time and it can’t be solved in one conversation.

Anxiety is contagious. Parents and children can feed each other’s anxieties. So it’s the job of parents to stay calm, think clearly and role model confidence when kids get anxious. Here are some ideas:

1. Calm is Created Through Your Words, Voice and Facial Expression. When children become anxious, help them recognise what’s happening. Some kids get angry, some become upset and others withdraw. Work out the pattern for your child and help them recognise when they are anxious.

2. Accept your Child’s Anxious Feelings. Your child needs to trust that you are with them, and then they will be more willing to let you help them cope. It’s hard sometimes to differentiate between what may be a bad case of negative thinking and true anxiety, which needs your assistance. Is a child being negative when she doesn’t want to join a new club because she thinks no one will like her, or is there something more going on? Try your best to confirm whether there is any validity in her fears. If not, diplomatically point out she maybe catastrophising. If you feel she has foundation for concern, she will need support to overcome her anxiety.

3. Challenge the Validity of Your Child’s Fears and Anxiety, Using Logic and Rational Thinking. Don’t allow children to wallow in self-pity. Move their thoughts towards the future rather than allow them to mope around.

4. Encourage your Child to Overcome Their Anxiety Through Action. One mother came up with a creative solution to help Ruth, her seven-year-old daughter, overcome her reluctance to attend her schoolmates’ birthday parties without her mother.

Being a good mum, she attended parties with her daughter so she wouldn’t miss out on these social opportunities. But her daughter was becoming too reliant on her so it was time to make a change.

The next time Ruth was invited to a party her mum put a plan into action. First, she set up a little birthday party scenario at home using dolls and teddies as friends, so her daughter would know what to expect when she went to the party. Ruth’s mum explained that she would leave her at the party for a short-time on her own, while she did some shopping. She let her daughter know that she had no doubt that she’d cope.

The little plan worked a treat. Vanessa arrived at the party an hour after the start to find Ruth busily involved in a game. She acknowledged her mum but she didn’t leave the game. Later at home, Vanessa made a fuss over her daughter for being brave and overcoming her fears. Ruth agreed that next time she was invited to a party she would go for the whole time without her mum.

It’s important to remember that anxiety is normal and part of everyday life. However it can be debilitating unless it’s managed. Anxiety management takes time for children to learn, but it’s one of those valuable life skills that parents can teach their children.

Resources for Anxious Children:

 Mr Jitters -  A story for preschool and early primary school aged children


Everyday Jitters by Jeanene Ecob This story book is aimed at children aged 3-5 years who sometimes get anxious.


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