Parenting an Anxious Child
One of the most common presenting symptoms I see in my clinic is children experiencing anxiety. Often I tell parents that in my experience working as a Psychologist for the last 15 years, It is the One diagnosis that I see as easiest and successful to treat in a short period of time. It brings great joy to see my clients who experience anxiety to learn to manage and overcome this. However, in saying this I often see many untreated anxious children, or parents who are reluctant to the take the first step to seeing a professional for this. With this I hope if you reading this article below and think your child suffers from anxiety – please contact me and we can journey together to work through the evidence based research and anxiety program to help your child lead a more fulfilling life!
Tips for Managing Anxiety in Children
1. Provide a safe, secure, familiar, consistent, and dependable home.
2. Spend calm, relaxed time with your child. For example read with them, have a picnic somewhere quiet.
3. If appropriate, encourage your child to express their concerns, worries, or fears.
4. Listen to your child without being critical or dismissive.
5. Build your child’s feelings of self-worth. Use encouragement and affection. Try to involve your child in situations where he or she can succeed.
6. Try to use positive encouragement and rewards instead of punishment.
7. Allow your child opportunities to make choices and have some control in his/her life.
8. Develop awareness of situations and events that are stressful for your child. These include new experiences, fear of unpredictable outcomes, unpleasant sensations, unmet needs or desires, and loss.
9. Be selective in the television programs that young children watch (including news broadcasts). These can produce fears and anxiety.
10. Recognize the signs of anxiety in your child. Ask yourself, “How do I know my child is anxious?” If appropriate, point these signs out to your child.
11. Discourage avoidance of things that are anxiety provoking and reward your child when he/she tries to do things that make him/her anxious.
12. Ask yourself, “Does my child seek reassurance a lot?” If you think so then limit the amount of reassurance you give. Instead of saying “You’ll be okay” ask what he/she is anxious about and problem solve.
13. Keep your child informed of necessary and anticipated changes such as changes in routine, jobs or moving.
14. Encourage physical activity to help your child relax.
15. Ask yourself “What soothes my child?” and then encourage your child to do that. For example he/she might like listening to calming music or taking a warm bath.
16. Teach your child to breathe deeply. As he/she exhales have him/her say “Calm”.
17. Sometimes teaching a child problem solving skills can be helpful. These skills can be effectively modeled. For example whilst reading a book together or watching a television program you could ask a series of questions such as:-
“What is the problem here?” or “What do you think is going on?”
“What do you think that person could do about that?”
“What else might they be able to do?”
“What do you think would happen if they did that?”
“What would you do?”
18. If possible help your child become aware of the links between feelings and behaviours, and thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Feel free to contact Narmi to make an appointment to discuss ways in which you can offer the best level of treatment for your child with anxiety.