Anxiety is a common mental health issue that affects people of all ages, including children. As a parent, watching your child go through emotional difficulties can be one of the most taxing experiences you can have. You want to protect your child from pain, but in the case of anxiety, the cause of your child’s stress is an invisible, internal enemy. But there are some easy ways to manage your child’s anxiety and fears.
The first step in helping your child manage thier feelings is to understand what anxiety is and how it affects your child. First, we must recogonise that it is a normal response to stress, but it can become a problem when it interferes with daily life. Children with anxiety may experience physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. They may also have trouble concentrating, feel irritable or restless, and avoid certain situations or activities.
Encourage Open Communication
Encouraging open communication is essential for helping children manage their feelings. Let your child know that it’s okay to talk and express their feelings. And, that you are there to listen and support them. Ask open-ended questions and avoid dismissing their concerns. Validate their feelings and let them know that it’s normal to feel anxious sometimes.
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Practice Relaxation Techniques
Teaching your child relaxation techniques can help them manage their anxiety. Deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises and meditation are all effective techniques for reducing anxiety. Encourage your child to practice these techniques regularly, even when they are not feeling anxious. Additionally, submerging your face in cold water can help disrupt anxiety and reduce symptoms.
“There’s some evidence that full body, cold water submersion can help with anxiety and depression”, says Allison Young, MD, a practicing psychiatrist and adjunct professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, and medical reviewer for Everyday Health.
One study, for instance, found that winter swimming was linked to less tension, fatigue, and negative moods, as well as improved self-reported energy and vigour. While there is no research that suggests using ice baths on the face work the same as full body ice baths, many are sharing the positives of this via technique via TikTok and other social platforms. We also suggest not trying this with young children, instead try cold water splashed on the face, or running wrists under cold water for a short time. (Always supervise children around water)
Additionally, pressure therapy, such as using compression clothing, weighted toys, or fidget toys, can also help children manage their anxiety. Studies have shown that individuals report reduced anxiety when utilising deep-pressure therapy. The therapy works by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which puts the body into “rest mode” and promotes feelings of calm and contentment.
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Create a Calm Environment
Creating a calm environment can help reduce anxiety in children. Make sure your child has a quiet and comfortable space to relax in. Avoid overstimulating environments and limit exposure to stressful situations, such as news reports or violent media. You can also create a sensory box of fidgets and aids to help with anxiety. This box can include items such as stress balls, putty, or a weighted blanket.
Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine can help children feel more secure and reduce anxiety. Create a schedule for meals, bedtime, and other activities. Stick to the routine as much as possible, even on weekends and holidays.
Encourage Physical Activity
Physical activity is an effective way to reduce stress and overwhelm in children. Encourage your child to engage in regular exercise, such as playing outside, riding a bike, or taking a walk. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve mood.
Seek Professional Help for anxiety
If your child’s anxiety is interfering with their daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide your child with the tools and strategies they need to manage their feelings of overwhelm. They may recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of both. You can actually access 10 free or heavily subsidise Medicare appointments to a psychologist through a referral from your GP. It is a Mental health plan via the Better Access initiative. You will need to visit your GP to get this referral.
Managing anxiety in children requires a combination of practical tips and strategies. Encouraging open communication, practicing relaxation techniques, creating a calm environment, establishing a routine, encouraging physical activity, and seeking professional help are all effective ways to help children manage their overwhelm. By providing your child with the support and tools they need, you can help them overcome their anxiety and improve their overall mental health.