Many students nowadays are experiencing anxiety at school and there’s a lot of factors that might elevate anxiety. As parents, your first instinct is to protect your child from anything that can harm them. This is the very reason why when a child is diagnosed with school anxiety, our first instinct is to fix the issue. The thing is, such an approach doesn’t always end well. What parents need to understand is that what they can do is to help manage their child’s anxiety.
But what can parents do to help an anxious child? Here are some pointers worth noting.
Stop Saying Don’t Worry
We often tell someone who’s feeling anxious, worried, or afraid, the words “don’t worry.” However, for children with anxiety disorders, they won’t stop worrying just because you said so. What you can do is to listen to your child’s worries, show them you get them, and allow them to cool down first. Tell them worrying is normal and that it is a protective mechanism everyone has. After they are calm, that’s the time you try to help them point out possible solutions so they will feel less worrisome in case they encounter such a scenario.
Think about Gradual Exposure
Parents whose kids have anxiety often try to avoid things that trigger anxiety symptoms. The thing is, we can’t always control the situation. If we resort to merely avoiding anxiety triggers, this can backfire in the future when you least expect it. Try gradually exposing your child to their fears instead. Take baby steps. Ease them into situations they usually get anxious about, and you’ll find that your child will slowly but surely be able to cope.
Consider Giving them a Weighted Blanket
We often hear the question, “do weighted blankets help with anxiety in children?” Such specialty blankets make use of deep touch pressure that helps stimulate the production of “feel-good hormones.” This, in turn, helps produce a calming effect. So, this only goes to show that the answer to the question “do weighted blankets help with anxiety in children?” is a yes. When a person with anxiety makes use of a weighted blanket, this can help them feel calmer and less anxious. If you’re considering buying a weighted blanket for your child, make sure to choose one that is 10% of their body weight.
Provide a Short Coping List
As much as possible, want our child to be independent. But how can one anxious child learn to be independent if they don’t know what to do in case of an anxiety attack? Make sure to list a couple of coping techniques your child can use in moments of anxiety. This can include deep breathing exercises, counting numbers, writing out their worries, or even ask an adult for help. You can either write such list down or have them memorize it by heart, if possible.
Respect but Never Empower Your Child’s Feelings
When a child tells you she is afraid of something, what can you do to help? One great piece of advice is to acknowledge their fears but never belittle their feelings. What your child needs from you is empathy, understanding, and encouragement. What you can tell your child is that you tell them you acknowledge the fact that they are scared, that it is alright to be afraid, you’re here to stay and that you’re willing to help them cope.
It may not be easy – helping a child manage their anxiety. But know that it is not impossible. Know that you are not alone and that other parents are also struggling to help their children manage anxiety symptoms. Keep this list in mind in case you need some tips on how you can help your anxious child cope in moments of anxiety attacks.