Countering Child Anxiety
Parent worry about their offspring all the time and want to protect them from all the troubles of the world. That however, isn't possible- as children grow up they encounter so many 'bogeys in the dark' and so many little trifles that set their minds afire. As a parent you cannot douse every fire, but you can teach your child how to counteract those fires. In fact, wading through a pool of anxiety is a life lesson that will stand a child in good stead in the future.
That however, doesn't mean you stand by and do nothing to help a child, who's worried and anxious. Their little minds cannot understand what's happening and they need help dealing with it.
Here are a few tips that can help
1. Help your child manage anxiety
That's so much better than trying to eliminate the source of anxiety- for instance if a child is scared and anxious whenever it has to get into the school bus, it may not be the bus itself which is the problem, but the people inside it or school itself. So, the focus should be on alleviating fears and anxieties by talking to the child and all concerned to see how best it can be managed. Encourage the child to talk to you about everything that's happening around it and to it.
2. Be realistic while tackling child anxiety
Running away or avoiding things that make a child anxious is no answer at all, for it's only a temporary solution. The same fears, unless tackled, are going to bother the child as it grows up. Go into the heart of the problem and teach the child how to cope with those fears as early as possible.
3. Don’t pooh-pooh a child's fears and anxiety
All of us were children once and have gone through the anxiety road more than once. So don't make short work of a child's fears- rather- try to understand what they're going through and get them to believe that you do so. Reassurance is the key here.
4. Don't unwittingly increase anxiety levels
When your child is anxious about something, it's not uncommon that parents are too, but it's important not to let it show. You need to put on a show of confidence- naturally and easily- so that your child's anxiety levels are not heightened. The anxiety may not go way in the face of your calmness, but will at least not increase. Seeing you unconcerned may just infuse that bit of extra confidence in them, and that could help dispel some of the anxiety they feel.
5. Get to the root of the anxiety but don't encourage it
Find out how the child feels in a 'particularly anxious situation' rather than putting ideas into its head. Encouraging them to talk about it makes them feel comfortable rather than imposing upon them the settled idea that they feel anxious about a certain situation.
6. Talk with your child
Listen to what children have to say and try to prepare them for events that could be stressful. However, keep the anticipation time short enough so that children don't dwell on it too much. Plan with them on how you're going to tackle a situation and teach them to respond resourcefully.
7. Be a good role model
Let children know that parents too can be anxious. In doing so, let them know how you're coping with it and dealing with your fears. Children emulate those that they love and will role model themselves after their parents. Teach them well.
Growing up is scary- both for children and parents- (though parents bear the brunt) but at the same time it can be fun if parents handle their children well and coax them out of their fears in a natural way. All said and done, anxiety is not something that you can wish away just like that- it's an inherent part of the building and growing process. Parents need to talk, understand, listen to children and teach them how to cope with their anxiety.
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