When a child is experiencing anxiety problems (or an anxiety disorder), we should that the anxiety is real. It might only be perceived by the child as real and perceived by others as an irrational response to something that is not real.
Children often feel embarrassed or helpless to the range of emotions they feel. They also feel that they could be misunderstood by others and often feel alienated or alone. A lot of kids are unsure how to deal with these feelings as they turn to methods like avoidance or trying to pin the feeling on someone else to find answers. If you’re ever concerned that your child might be experiencing anxiety, try to reassure him/her and make sure they know it’s okay because there are ways, we can help them overcome this tough time.
The challenge children face when dealing with anxiety is learning how to cope. They often do not believe they will be able to resolve the problems associated with getting anxious. As a result, many of them rely on parents or other trusted adults for protection from their feared situation.
Children going through anxiety need to learn that no matter how uncomfortable the feeling is, it will completely disappear if they take a step back and try to walk towards it with a clear mind. For example, you can’t get rid of an itch unless you stop scratching at it! When we first start down a new path, anxiety arises from uncertainty but by keeping our cool and carrying on (at least taking one step) the fear subsides and often dissolves. While telling your child to put their head back in the sand isn’t exactly what we’re saying here, this is a good way of underscoring the importance of trying first before making judgments or getting caught up in our thoughts and not letting things play out naturally.
In general, anxiety comes and goes with time. Anxiety dissipates on its own if the child wants it to! However, if your child is completely overwhelmed and genuinely fearing certain situations, then they might retreat from that activity or ritual where they can be anxious due to fear of a panic attack.
As parents, you play a significant role in helping children to understand and accept their feelings. Unfortunately, this goes both ways – in the sense that if you don’t accept that they are feeling a certain way then they will question their own acceptance of those feelings or whether they’re normal or not. When it comes to situations such as a child being afraid of bugs in your backyard, it may be best for you to offer support instead of criticizing the situation. Let’s say for example that your child was nervous about bugs and wanted other people around if he had to walk outside at night. Each step you take making them feel more anxious is perpetuating the anxiety until one day where even the littlest things can set off extreme cases of stress and panic attacks.
The first step for parents is being able to accept the problem and the reality of what it means for their child. As we mentioned, this involves listening to what they have to say while also adjusting your words accordingly to whether you think they’re right. This can be a challenging concept because many of us are conditioned by society other outside influences to respond with things like: “You’ll get used to school”, or “Stop worrying as it doesn’t help”. Contrary, by adjusting our perspective we can provide support and confidence which will go a long way towards easing their anxiety issues.