Anxiety in children brings many obstacles: difficulties in getting used to new places, people or activities, tendencies to remain on the sidelines of a group or alone, or systematically avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. In such cases, one can speak of deeper anxiety than just shyness.
Here is a list of 8 tips that can help manage your child’s anxiety.
Facing your fears
Avoiding anxiety-provoking situations keeps the anxiety running. When a child faces his fears, he learns that he can dare to excel and believe more in his abilities to do it again. He will also see that the fear he had was actually less scary and dangerous than he thought.
It is important to accept the mistakes and imperfections of your child. While encouraging your child to work hard is just as important, trying to perfect will negatively affect his perception of himself.
Anxious and stressed children can get lost in negative and self-critical thoughts. The more you are able to focus on the positive attributes of your child and the good sides of a situation, the more it will become natural for him to concentrate on the positives.
Lead by example
Your child will do like you do; if you avoid anxiety-provoking situations, he will do the same. When you think about the psychological well-being of your child, think of yours. Face your fears and, above all, take care of yourself. Your child will learn that self-love is an important part of life.
Reward courageous behaviors
When your child faces his fears, reward him with a compliment, a hug, or something like a sticker or a small treat. By rewarding courage, your child will be more likely to adopt this behavior again.
Encourage him to express himself
When your child is worried or frightened, do not say “no, you’re fine!”; this will not help your child and encourage him to keep his worries to himself. Instead, say something like “yes, you seem worried. What worries you?”. Talk to him about his emotions and fears.
Help solve problems
After validating your child’s emotions and showing that you understand his concerns, help him solve his problem. This does not mean to solve it for him, but rather to help identify possible solutions. If your child is big enough to generate solutions, let him do so. If he is still too young, generate possible solutions for him and ask him to choose the solution he thinks is the best.
Practice relaxation exercises
Sometimes, relaxation exercises are needed to help your child reduce stress and anxiety. You might ask him to take a few slow, deep breaths, to imagine being somewhere like the beach or a peaceful place he loves, or just suggest him to relax in a hammock in the back yard. You could also practice family yoga.