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What is the best way to calm anxiety in children?

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Calming anxiety is not always easy but the first place to start is yourself. Children often pick up on the anxieties of the adults around them.  Children feel uneasy and anxious if the adults around them are anxious, upset, or angry. They often don’t understand what your anxieties are about and generalize it to themselves. This is especially true for very young children who often don’t see themselves as separate from their parents. Any feelings and emotions you display they start to take on as their own.

One way to start curbing this anxiety is to limit your child’s exposure to adult conversations and outside media like the news. Limiting their exposure can drastically cut back on the things that they worry about. It doesn’t happen over night but over time they become less involved in the adult world and start to worry less about those things that were drifting into their consciousness at too early an age.

For children who are by nature worriers, anxiety sneaks up quickly. Acknowledging their worries is important but don’t let them or yourself dwell on it. Address the worry and move on. Don’t let the child get stuck ruminating on the same topic over and over.  If you know that certain things usually cause anxiety for your child, you can also bring up ideas for how to deal with it ahead of time.  Then later that day when you encounter the situation, you can quickly remind your child of how to cope and move them along.

One last thing to keep in mind: always model for your child how you want them to behave. If you see a big bug and start to scream and yell about it, guess what your child will probably develop a fear of bugs. “Teach by example.”  By tackling your own fears you are helping yourself and your child!