Simple Ways Parents Can Help Support Children With Anxiety
As the pandemic continues, more adults have increasing anxiety disorder symptoms than ever before. So it is no surprise that our children are being directly affected as well. While some adults may ask, "what do kids even have to worry about?" Over 4.4 million children in the United States alone have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Children not only have school to worry about, but they are humans too, and have stress related to family, making friends, the future, current events, and even their own health. With online schooling and increased barriers to accessing resources, this number only continues to grow.
There are many ways parents can support their children at home who struggle with anxiety. Being aware of your child's behaviors when they become anxious is the most crucial part of being able to help them navigate their anxiety. Anxiety in children can cause debilitating and scary symptoms for kids that include stomach aches, headaches, problems sleeping, trouble in school, barriers to making friends, and more. Supporting your child with compassion and providing them with distracting, relaxing activities is the number one way parents can help their kids manage these anxious episodes. Read below for some easy and simple things that you can do to help soothe your child.
Coloring is an activity your children have probably already partaken in and most likely already enjoy! This simple and fun activity is a great way to decrease anxiety-related stress in both children and adults. Repetition of fine motor movements helps lower heart rate and blood pressure. Coloring promotes mindfulness and helps kids enter a state of mediation. It also allows them to get creative and express emotions in a healthy outlet.
Create an Anti-Stress Kit
This is a great tool to make accessible to your child during an anxious episode, especially when you are not around to help calm their fears. Consider having a box filled with items that will help decrease these symptoms and provide extra comforts. These items can be a stuffed animal or blanket, an anti-stress ball and other fidget toys, pictures of their family or friends, some hard candy, or a piece of chocolate, and even a handwritten note telling them how much you love them.
Cook A Meal With Your Child
This is a great activity to do with your child that will promote bonding between the two of you! Let your kid decide once a week what the meal will be for dinner and attempt to cook this with them. Not only will this make them feel helpful and boost their self-esteem, but it can also be a great way to teach them skills of responsibility. In addition, cooking is a great practice that can provide a creative outlet for children and a sense of distraction from their anxious thoughts.
Does your child like to be hugged and held when feeling anxious? Deep pressure that stimulates the nervous system can provide feelings of calmness and help decrease physical anxiety symptoms when children become "overstimulated" from either their internal or external environment. A weighted blanket is a great tool to help add extra pressure to the nervous system and make your kid feel super cuddly! In addition, studies have shown that weighted blankets are a great way to quickly decrease heart rate and muscle tension for some safe and great options of weighted blankets for children. You can purchase one here.
Yoga is growing in popularity among health and wellness groups for adults. But in children, yoga can also help decrease stress and improve flexibility. This is a great way to make sure children stay active while assisting them in improving focus and their general well-being. In addition, getting your child into yoga is an excellent physical coping skill for anxiety that they will be able to use for the rest of their life.
Limit Your Child's Access to The News While Still Answering Their Questions
Finding a balance between what to expose your child to and still keeping them informed is a struggle for many parents. Too much negative information can affect the developing brain, so not every violent news story should be shared with them. On the other hand, keeping your child in the dark about their curiosities will only spark more anxiety, so answer questions they have and try to expose them to a mix of negative and positive events in the world.
Reach Out for Extra Support If Necessary
In many of the same ways adults suffer from anxiety, our kids do too. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Play Therapy are two evidence-based practices that are great for helping kids who suffer from anxiety at a clinical level. These therapies are led by Child Therapists and use principles of psycho-awareness, building positive self-esteem, and changing thought patterns in children to help lessen their stress levels.
It's estimated that one in five children experience a mental health disorder in any given year. But despite how common these disorders are, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding them. Many parents feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that their child is struggling, and as a result, they don't get the help they need. But it's important to remember that mental health disorders are just like any other medical condition- they require treatment to get better. Therapy is an evidence-based treatment for many different types of mental health disorders, and it can be highly effective. So if your child is struggling, don't be afraid to seek out the help they need. Shoreside Therapies is hear to support you and help with your child's anxiety.
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