Anxiety in children is often misinterpreted or brushed off as something they’ll grow out of. But for us parents, there is nothing we want more than for our wonderful kids to flourish and be happy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not been easy on our young ones, especially the ones that used to enjoy lots of contact with other children, or babies who spent their first few months with barely any connection with family members and friends.
Spending a lot more time at home without that much needed contact can make them a little bit more anxious. Or maybe your child is experiencing anxiety from other factors in their lives.
We’ve put together this article to help parents who are looking for some extra tips on supporting their child and easing any anxiety related issues. Including how to identify an anxiety disorder in children, and our top 5 tips for managing symptoms of anxiety in kids.
Identifying Anxiety In Children
Anxiety disorders in children can worsen over time if not identified or managed, which can lead on to have bigger impacts later on in life. There are many signs that you can look out for to support your child early on.
It is important to be able to recognise the difference between common anxiety over small things like spiders, monsters under the bed, or even strangers, and an actual anxiety disorder that is affecting your child deep down.
A child's anxiety can be caused by a number of reasons, but what's most important is spotting the early indicators to give your child the help they need. These signs can include, but are not limited to:
- Panic attacks or increased irritability, such as frequent crying, or tantrums.
- Separation anxiety, not wanting to socialise with others around them, and feeling overwhelmed in situations they may need to be apart from you. Like wanting to avoid school, or going to a friend's house.
- More physical symptoms can include: nausea, headaches, stomach pains, lack of appetite, muscle aches, or sleeping issues.
Young children or older children may face 1 or 2 of the traits mentioned above, or they may experience none or all of them. Every child is unique, and even if they do show a few of these signs, that does not confirm they do have any anxiety disorders.
If you think your child is suffering from anxiety then seek professional help, as untreated anxiety orders can worsen as a child's age increases.
How Can I Help My Child With Anxiety?
It is easy for us parents to go into panic mood and assume the worst, but occasional anxiety does not always mean a social anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.
There are many simple steps you can introduce into your child's life for when they feel anxious, and to relieve any negative thoughts they may be experiencing.
Tip 1: Calming Techniques
Young people or children may not recognise how to calm themselves down in overwhelming situations or when having an unexpected panic attack. An easy tip is to support them, and let your child manage the situation through simple breathing techniques. You can start the process with them, until they can do it themselves.
Have them start by slowly counting to five whilst they breathe in, and count again as they breathe out. They can gradually add on one or two counts to encourage their breathing to continue slowing.
This is especially useful for younger children who are yet to fully understand what they are experiencing.
Tip 2: Be sympathetic
It can be easy to see a tantrum or a refusal to take part as ‘naughty’ behaviour, but often it's just an anxious child. Simply telling off your children and then making them face that situation can make the behaviour even worse.
Try asking how they are feeling, understand why they are reluctant to take part, or do what you’re asking. Acknowledge their feelings and try to alleviate any fears they may have. Perhaps hold their hand, or wait a while for them to ‘warm up’, try to be supportive.
By making them feel their fears are understandable, but also helping them to realise the risk is minimal you have more chance of getting them to do it.
Try not to give in, as avoidance can just postpone it for another occasion, but don’t force them into a situation they are uncomfortable with - as this can actually make their anxiety and behaviour worse.
Tip 3: Acknowledge the feelings
Many young people feel worried about things that don't cross our minds as adults. childhood anxiety, depending on if it is just occasional or is starting to become a disruption in everyday life, should be treated differently.
If it is just every so often - you can find practical strategies useful, such as taking the time to allow your child to acknowledge how they are feeling and express it to you if they wish so.
If need be, a child psychologist or trained therapist may suggest talking therapy, or cognitive behavioural therapy to help your child's behaviour or mindset.
Tip 4: Reassurance
Reassuring your child is a great way of reminding them that their anxiety does not control them. Children learn quickly, and by repeating this to them it will let them know the feelings will pass.
A great way for your child to uplift themselves is through positive affirmations, that will build up their confidence.
Tip 5: Affirmations
It will be useful for anxious children or anyone with anxiety disorders to connect with their senses and surround themselves with positive messages that will remind them of what makes them special despite any anxious feelings they may be having.
Here at Little Nutkins we believe that being unique makes you special, we have created a line of positive and uplifting products created to help children feel more confident and happy and have access to positive messages everyday!