In these uncertain times anxiety is more common than ever, especially in children. When your child is anxious, your first instinct may be to protect them from their fears, but it’s important to help kids learn how to cope with anxiety on their own. In addition to taking your child to see a therapist, there are things you can do to help your child minimize anxiety by encouraging them to use positive coping mechanisms.
Some signs of anxiety in children include avoiding activities they used to enjoy and inability to relax or concentrate. Depending on their age, your child may get clingy and want to be with you all the time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children who have never experienced anxiety before may be wondering when they’ll see their friends again, what school will look like in the fall and whether or not they or someone they love may become sick. Children often don’t understand where intense worries or feelings are coming from and how to deal with them. That’s why it’s vital to pay attention to your child’s behaviors and feelings – if you notice that they’re more anxious than usual, there are things you can do to help them feel more secure.
Stay calm when your child becomes anxious – It’s okay to let your child experience some anxiety about an upcoming event or transition. Let your child know that everyone feels this way sometimes, especially when trying something new.
Help them build on their strengths – Praising your child for even the littlest accomplishments helps build their confidence and self-esteem, which can help them deal with anxiety when it arises. When they face a challenge, try something new or overcome their fears, let them know you’re proud of them. Encourage them to explore their interests, whether it’s art, music, sports, or something else. Giving the jobs around the house and praising them for contributing to the family can also make them feel secure and competent.
Maintain a normal routine – Sticking to a routine can help assuage a child’s anxiety because they know what to expect, but it’s important to be flexible as when necessary. It can be challenging to stay on track, especially if your child is doing distance learning while you’re trying to work from home. Take it easy on yourself but try to stay on a schedule.
Plan for transitions – Many children have a tough time with transitions such as moving, starting school, dealing with divorce and other events that can be life-changing. Ease your child into transitions by talking with them about it beforehand, listening to what they have to say and answering any questions they may have. Reassure them that no matter what happens, you’ll be there for them.
Seek therapy – All kids experience anxiety at one time or another, but when a child’s fears begin to interfere with their ability to function it may be time to seek therapy.
If your child is experiencing anxiety, our experienced, compassionate child therapists can help them learn skills that can help them cope during these challenging times. Contact a therapist at Kayenta directly to get started.