Child anxiety seems to be becoming more commonplace in modern society. With changing family structures, work situations and growing levels of pressure to achieve, it is no wonder many of our children are suffering from pressures and stress.
A child, who is overwhelmed with worries, may not verbally express them and signs may become apparent through changes in their behaviour. Your child may not be able to sleep at night, seek constant reassurance and try to avoid what may be triggering the anxiety. Your child may start to exhibit symptoms of stress and anxiousness in certain situations, for example,Sunday evening before school, or when arguments start to arise within the family home. It is an indication as to what is causing your child’s stress and anxiousness and it means that the indicated problems can be helped to be resolved.
Try and encourage your child to face what is causing them distress. When we are afraid of certain situations, we tend to avoid them. Avoiding stress-provoking situations maintains the anxiety which we have towards these situations. Often we are afraid and overthink situations and with a child’s imagination, often fears and anxieties can be blown out of proportion. If a child learns that their anxiety can be reduced once the cause has been faced, it will help them come to terms with eradicating their stress.
Allow your child to tell you how they feel. When your child expresses feelings such as stress and anxiety, do not dismiss them and tell them ‘it will be okay’ – ask them questions in regards to how they are feeling, asking them what is causing their distress. By doing this, your child will understand that you are there for them and understand how they are feeling, whilst also helping you determine what is causing the problem and how to eradicate the associated feelings.
Focus on the positives. Often, anxious and stressed children get caught up in a train of thought which leads them to overthink situations and get lost within the negatives. The more able you are to indicate and focus on the good attributes of a situation, the more it will be engrained within your child’s mind to view the positives and to focus on them.
Stay calm yourself. Children look to their parents and elders to determine how to react in certain situations – we are our child’s first, most important teacher and often our behaviours are mimicked by our offspring. Children pick up on our emotions well and resonate with them – when you are anxious, your child will most definitely pick up on the way you feel and exhibit said behaviours in themselves. Work to ensure that under stress, your body language when communicating to your children is calm and composed.
Relax. Allow time for play and involvement within a hobby, or favourite sport. Allow your child to be a child and allow time dedicated to having fun and releasing energy.