According to psychologists, anxiety is an increasingly common disorder among children. For parents who deal with this problem with their children, it’s good to know some coping mechanisms and learn some ways to lower your child’s anxiety level. Here are some tips.
Us against It
For parents, it can be tempting to get angry with your child’s anxious behavior; but this just makes it worse, say experts. Instead, try to make it an “us against it” situation – team up with your child against the anxiety. Treat the anxiety as something you are going to fight together, side by side. Developing and cultivating that mentality can help in several ways:
* It helps alleviate parental anger by redirecting the feelings that anxiety can produce – parents can “re-wire” their reactions to be from a helpful standpoint rather than a punishing one.
* It identifies the anxiety as a third party, so to speak, and not something that is “wrong” with the child. The child may feel very relieved to know that his or her feelings are actually the anxiety.
* Once the anxiety is considered separate from the child, the child can learn to “boss it back” and not feel so much like a victim.
Reduce Your Own Anxiety
Children seem to pick up on parental anxiety, and their anxiety can make parents feel anxious, setting up an unpleasant cycle. As the adult, you can set an example of anxiety management and reduce the amount of anxiety that is in your living space. Meditate, pray, take deep breaths, or whatever works to keep your anxiety from worsening the situation.
Have you ever sat down and made a list or business plan to collect your thoughts? Do you feel better seeing it all down on paper? Structure – having a plan and a routine – tends to produce a sense of calm. The same is true for children.
Establish a routine (it need not be rigid, but it should be predictable), and limit extracurricular activities so there is plenty of “down time.” However, an outlet is important. Many anxious children benefit from music lessons or other classes that engage their mind and body.
You can teach your child various relaxation exercises and benefit from them yourself. Meditation may help, as can physical exercises that slowly relax each muscle group. Learning the mind-body connection can go a long way toward helping relieve anxiety. You might consider a martial arts or yoga class for your child.
Coping, Not Avoidance
While forcing your child to do too many things is not a good idea, teaching him or her to cope with anxious situations is a more useful tool than allowing him or her to avoid everything that causes anxiety. Teach your child how to face anxiety-producing events and situations, and he or she will likely feel more comfortable with some tools at his or her disposal.