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Helping a Child Cope with Anxiety

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An anxious outburst every now and again is one thing.

There are kids, however, who suffer from chronic anxiety.

No matter what their parents try, finding the right approach to soothe a child may be a mission impossible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.1 percent of children aged three to 17 are diagnosed with anxiety.

This means that nearly 4.4 million children in the US deal with some kind of anxiety disorder.

If your child is one of them, you’ll need to educate yourself about the best strategies to cope with the situation.

Apart from seeking professional assistance, there are things you can do to put your child at ease and equip them with the tools to handle the situation.

nearly 4.4 million children in the US deal with some kind of anxiety disorder. Here are tips for helping a child cope with anxiety.

Avoidance Doesn’t Help

There will be triggers and things in real life bound to make your child anxious.

Avoiding those triggers isn’t a good thing in the long run because the anxiety can quickly transform itself into unfounded fear.

Say your kid is afraid of dogs.

If you cross the streets to walk on the opposite sidewalk each time a dog approaches you, the chances are that the anxiety will grow stronger over time.

Instead of attempting to avoid triggers, find rational ways for your child to cope with the anxiety.

You can start by observing dogs from a distance, telling your child about the different signals dogs send (wagging the tail means a dog’s friendly, the common signs of fear or aggression), and even visiting a dog park to see how pups play and interact with each other.

Make the process slow and gradual.

Respect your child’s boundaries, and don’t push them too hard.

Baby steps will eventually establish a healthy routine that will enable a child to cope with a trigger in a healthy manner instead of avoiding it altogether.

woman in mustard yellow shirt helping a child cope with anxiety

Tell Your Child They’ll Be Ok

Many irrational things can lead to anxiety, and you can’t promise your child that everything will turn out perfect in the end.

Unrealistic expectations followed by failure can contribute to severe doses of additional anxiety.

Here’s an example – if your child is afraid of making a presentation in front of the class and they worry, don’t tell them that nobody’s going to laugh.

You can’t make such a promise because the situation isn’t in your control.

Tell your child, however, that if they practice and they exude confidence, the chances are that the other kids will like the presentation.

Realistic expectations and knowing what outcomes to anticipate can be beneficial in terms of handling fear and anxiety.

Don’t hype up your child with promises of easy accomplishment and popularity.

Such unrealistic expectations can only lead to disappointment sooner or later.

teenage boy with anxiety looking into camera

Try Natural Soothing Remedies

Apart from modifying your own behavior, you can rely on various tools and natural products to ease anxiety in kids.

Various studies suggest that magnesium deficiency could be linked to anxiety.

There are numerous child-friendly magnesium supplements out there, and you could also maximize the intake of foods rich in magnesium.

Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins also play a role in brain function, neurology, and mood stabilization.

CBD oil has also been considered a powerful anti-anxiety supplement, but is CBD safe for kids?

While CBD isn’t the same as THC, there aren’t too many studies that have been carried out among underage individuals.

If you want to try it out for anxiety, do talk to your pediatrician first.

Apart from modifying your own behavior, you can rely on various tools and natural products to ease anxiety in kids.

Respect Feelings and Don’t Reinforce Fears

There are two additional very important things you need to master as a parent.

First, respect your kid’s fear and feelings of anxiety without empowering them.

What does that mean?

If your child doesn’t want to get their vaccine because they’re afraid of needles, don’t ridicule them.

Don’t belittle the fear – recognize its existence.

At the same time, let them know there’s nothing scary or painful about getting a shot.

Act casual, encourage them to communicate with the doctor, and ask questions.

Being by their side will help children healthily address their anxiety.

It’s also important to refrain from reinforcing fears or creating new ones.

Fear tactics are often used as a parenting tool, and this is a very wrong approach.

Some parents will reinforce specific fears to get their kids to behave (do X; otherwise, I will never buy you ice-cream again).

Can you see how such scare tactics can reinforce fears and lead to anxiety?

Find a more productive and less devastating way to be a parent.

Anxiety in kids can be challenging to address, especially if they’re too young to recognize it and do something about it.

As a parent, however, you should be there to offer support and guidance.

If you don’t think you have the knowledge and the patience to handle the situation, talk to a professional.

Chronic anxiety shouldn’t be underestimated, as it can have long-lasting effects.

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