According to Worry Wise Kids, anxiety is the most common mental health problem facing children and adolescents. Children who suffer from anxiety are less likely to learn how to deal with stress as they grow up. If your child is easily distressed, gets regular headaches and stomachaches, worries about upcoming events weeks in advance, or is very self-critical, she may have high anxiety. In addition to seeking a counselor, you can help your child at home too.
1. Keep a Routine
Set a routine that includes a regular bedtime routine, exercise, and taking care of your child's basic needs. If your child is active and gets plenty of sleep, it will help to keep her anxiety in check. Children also feel much calmer when they know what to expect.
Talk to your child about her feelings and help her label them. Pay attention and let your child know that you hear her and understand her concerns. Talking about it can be difficult for children as they struggle to find the right words, but will ultimately be beneficial in helping them recognize their feelings and fears and learn to deal with them.
Some of us need to learn how to relax. Encourage your child to take a few deep breaths and then count to ten. It helps her calm down which then allows her to talk about how she is feeling. Your child could also benefit from having a specific relaxation spot in the house where she can read quietly. You can also try yoga or meditation.
4. Problem Solve
Children are often afraid of things that they can't fix. Working with them to problem solve some more anxious situations can help them to be prepared for stress.
You may think she is too young to understand, but talk to your child about what anxiety is. Explain worry and what it feels like so that she can recognize it when it happens. This will help her to use the tools she's learned (deep breathing) in the right situation to help calm herself down. Telling your child to stop worrying isn't going to make her stop worrying. She needs to recognize her anxiety so she can learn to deal with it appropriately.
6. Be a Role Model
Children learn from us. If you worry a lot or shows signs of anxiety in stressful situations, your child will learn those behaviors from you. For example, if you scream when you see a spider, your child will do the same and will become afraid of spiders. Try to overcome your own fears and show your child how to properly handle stress. That is one of the best ways for her to learn — by example.
Anxiety in children can be completely normal, but some children will struggle with high anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. If you think your child's anxiety is higher than average, keep a record of when and how she expresses anxiety. Than talk to friends and your child's pediatrician about the right counselor or clinic to bring your child to.