How To Help Your Children With Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotion experienced by children and young people that may result from physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings. It is common for young people to feel worried, particularly in certain situations such as starting school or before exams. However, anxiety can become a problem if it becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, leaving them feeling exhausted, isolated, and limited. 


As a parent, there are steps you can take to support your child in managing their anxiety, including offering emotional support, developing practical strategies together, and seeking professional help if necessary.


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What Can Cause Anxiety In Children?

Various factors can trigger anxiety in children and young people. These may include sudden changes, like moving house or school or having responsibilities that are too much for their age and development, such as caring for family members. Being around someone very anxious, experiencing academic pressure, dealing with family stress around finances, or going through distressing or traumatic experiences like bullying can all contribute to heightened anxiety. It is crucial to recognize these triggers and provide support and assistance to help children manage their anxiety.

Strategies for Helping Your Child Cope with Anxiety

  • Validate Their Feelings: Anxiety can be overwhelming for children, and it’s essential to let them know that their feelings are valid and that it’s okay to feel anxious. When your child expresses their worries and concerns, take the time to listen and empathize with them. Acknowledge their fears and let them know that you understand how they feel. By validating their feelings, you can help your child feel seen and heard, which can be a powerful tool in reducing their anxiety.

  • Teach Relaxation Techniques: Teaching your child simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization can help them relax their body and mind. Encourage your child to practice these techniques regularly, even when they’re not feeling anxious. Over time, these techniques can become automatic responses to stress, helping your child manage their anxiety more effectively.

  • Encourage Positive Self-Talk: Negative self-talk can significantly contribute to anxiety. Encourage your child to use positive self-talk to counter negative thoughts. Help them identify negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones. For example, if your child is anxious about a test, help them reframe their ideas from “I’m going to fail” to “I’m going to do my best.” By changing their internal dialogue, your child can build confidence and resilience, making it easier to manage their anxiety.

  • Create A Routine: Children thrive on structure and routine, and having a consistent pattern of activities can help reduce anxiety. Establish a routine for your child that includes regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep. Ensure your child has downtime in their daily practices, where they can engage in relaxing activities such as reading, drawing, or playing outside. This routine can help your child feel more in control of their day and provide a sense of predictability, reducing their anxiety.

  • Beware of Avoidance: Avoidance can reinforce anxiety by making your child feel like they cannot handle a situation. Instead, encourage your child to face their fears gradually, with support. For example, if your child is anxious about going to school, help them break down the steps they need to take to get there, such as waking up, getting dressed, and leaving the house. Encourage them to take small steps towards their goal and celebrate their successes. By gradually facing their fears, your child can build confidence and reduce anxiety.

  • Seek Professional Help: If your child’s anxiety is severe or interfering with their daily life, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can provide additional support and resources to help your child manage their anxiety. They can also offer guidance and support for parents, helping them navigate their child’s anxiety and develop effective coping strategies. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and can help your child build the skills to manage their anxiety and thrive.