Anxiety is a feeling that is characterized by being uneasy, worried or afraid.
It can happen to almost anybody both adults and children as occasional anxiety is normal. It happens when people are faced with a problem or are about to take a test or when they are in any other similar situation. It is a strong feeling of being tense about things that are about to happen or might happen in the future. As adults, most times we have learnt how to get past these hurdles and usually it is easier for adults to deal with anxiety.
This is mostly a result of different events and experiences we have gone through at different stages of our lives but for kids, this is not the case. Anxiety has the potential to cripple a child’s well being and likely to change their orientations.
This is where we must step in as adults. The kids need all the supports they can get from us and the following are some of the ways anxiety in kids can be handled.
1- Understand that you are not trying to eliminate anxiety but to help the child manage it
As adults, the first thing is to understand that you are not trying to get rid of anxiety and that you are on a mission to help the kid understand and control the situation. This will help you through the other steps.
2- Don’t try to keep kids away from situations that make them anxious
Keeping kids away from events that can trigger their anxiety might look like the best thing to do. That is trying to protect them and not allowing them to get exposed to such situations. However many things in life are associated with anxiety and you will not be there with them always or even always have the capacity to keep them out of such situations. Therefore this is not a good way to cope with anxiety.
3- Talk to the kid about anxiety and how they feel
It is very important to talk to the kid about how they feel and why they feel that way. This will help them to understand their feelings better and be able to discern. Then they can know when they feel anxious and promptly seek your support.
4- Encourage them to think positively
Kids should be encouraged to expect positive results and be optimistic at all times. This can help them overcome fear and anxiety. You can also help kids remember a time they overcame similar situations so that you can build their confidence.
5- Distraction and Emotional support
Young children can get past their anxiety as soon as get something to distract them like toys and games. Playing games with kids can help nib anxiety right at the moment while they gradually learn how to manage the situations as they grow. Also, hugs and reassurances are good ways to help kids get through their anxiety periods especially older kids who may not easily get distracted by toys and games.
6- Recommend books and movies and make them watch
In case of specific situations that trigger anxiety in kids, you can make them see a movie or read a book in which such a situation is illustrated or described and of course how it was handled. Kids easily learn and pick up values from illustrations. Movies and books can also help them get a better understanding of their feelings and how to express them.
7- Teach and practice relaxation techniques with the child
Relaxation techniques like control breathing has been proven to help with anxiety even in adults. You can teach kids how to take slow deep breaths and practice same with them. This method works for all age groups.
8- Help them get started and maintain healthy lifestyles
Exercise has been known to generally help with reducing stress levels and can help greatly with anxiety. Start a routine with the kids and help them stick to these exercise routines. It also helps with confidence and self esteem.
9- Set a good example
It is important to be a good example yourself to the kids. This means that you handle situations that make you anxious the way you would want them to handle theirs. This works like magic as kids have been known to pick up habits from elderly figures they look up to.
10- Help them with their performance in activities they do
Kids may be anxious about school tests or roles they have to play in a school party or even sports. Help them get better in their studies and other activities they love to take part in and watch them replace anxiety with confidence.
Anxiety in kids can have a terrible impact on their well being and character. It is important as an adult to help them overcome it in this early phase of their lives and teach them how best to handle it which is not by avoiding the triggers but challenging it.