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Empowering Parents: Strategies for Easing Anxiety in Children

September 14, 2023by Shari Markovich

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child struggling with anxiety, the entire family is likely feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Trying to find ways to ease your little one’s distress can be daunting. Yet, it is reassuring to know that there are tangible steps parents can take in order to help children manage anxiety. In this blog post, we explore how to help a child with anxiety so you can be better prepared for when your child experiences moments of anxiousness or fear.

What Is Anxiety in Children?

Anxiety in children can be a difficult thing to understand. It’s natural for a child to feel nervous or worried occasionally, but when these feelings become overwhelming and interfere with their daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Children with anxiety may have trouble sleeping, may refuse to go to school, or may be overly clingy with their parents. Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, parenting style, traumatic experiences, or even changes in family dynamics.

While it’s normal for a child to have anxious moments, if you notice your child struggling with anxiety, it’s important to seek an anxiety counsellor or psychotherapist to ensure that they receive the proper care and support they need.

What Are the Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders that cause people to feel extreme levels of fear, worry, and nervousness. There are different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatments.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Specific phobias

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Children

Anxiety can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to children. It’s not always easy to tell when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. However, there are a few signs and symptoms of anxiety in kids that you can keep an eye out for.

  • Physical symptoms include increased heart rate, sweating, tremors, and an upset stomach or digestive issues.
  • Emotional symptoms could be apparent in the form of crying, tantrums, or the child becoming easily upset.
  • Behavioural symptoms may include avoidance of social situations, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, an increase in clinginess, or a need for reassurance.

How to Talk to Your Child About Anxiety

If you suspect you child is struggling with anxiety, it is essential to regularly communicate with them about any concerns they may be experiencing.

  • Choose the Right Time and Place: Make sure that you have plenty of time for the conversation, as it may take some time for your child to open up and feel comfortable. It’s also important to choose a place where your child feels safe and secure, such as their bedroom or a quiet corner of the house.
  • Use Age-Appropriate Language: Avoid using technical terms or medical jargon as this may make them feel overwhelmed or confused. Instead, focus on simple words and phrases that will help them comprehend what you are saying.
  • Start with Open-Ended Questions: Instead of asking “Why are you so anxious?” try asking “What makes you feel anxious?” This will give them an opportunity to explain in their own words how they are feeling without feeling like they are being interrogated.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Encourage your child to talk openly about their worries and fears so that you can work together on finding solutions and coping strategies that work best for them.
  • Listen Actively: Showing genuine interest in what they have to say and avoiding distractions (e.g., looking at your phone) will help build trust between both of you which is essential when discussing sensitive topics such as anxiety.
  • Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge their emotions by letting them know that what they are feeling is normal and understandable given their circumstances, even if you don’t necessarily agree with how they are handling those feelings at the moment.
  • Help Them Understanding Anxiety: Explaining this concept in simple terms can help children better comprehend why they might be feeling a certain way and provide reassurance that these uncomfortable sensations are normal responses under certain circumstances.
  • Use Metaphors or Visual Aids: Metaphors can be powerful tools when trying explain complex concepts such as anxiety in an easy-to-understand manner, particularly if visual aids such as diagrams are used alongside the metaphor.
  • Reassure Your Unconditional Love and Support: Letting your child know that you are always there for them no matter what helps build trust between you and your child, which is essential when discussing sensitive topics such as mental health issues.
  • Avoid Blaming and Shaming: Blaming and shaming only serves to exacerbate symptoms further whilst also damaging parent/child relationships, something that should always be avoided at all costs.

Strategies for Helping Your Child Cope with Anxiety

Awareness and early intervention can help ensure your child’s emotional well-being and overall health. Here are some strategies to help anxious children deal with their complex feelings.

Get Support from Experienced Child Counsellors and Group Therapy at Family Matters Centre

At Family Matters Centre, we understand that anxiety in children can be challenging and overwhelming for families. That’s why we provide expert support from experienced child counsellors. Our team of anxiety therapists in Burlington can guide you through effective strategies to manage and treat your child’s anxiety.

We offer group therapy sessions that provide a safe and comfortable environment for children to share their emotions and learn cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. Our approach to treating anxiety in children is tailored to each child’s individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcome for your family.

If you’re looking for an anxiety counsellor or psychotherapist in the Burlington, Hamilton, or Oakville area, call us today at (905) 466-8023 or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.

by Shari Markovich

Shari is a Child Therapist who has worked with children and adolescents for more than 20 years. She uses a variety of counselling modalities, including Theraplay®, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Family Systems. She is motivated to work with children and parents so families can function in healthy and supportive ways.