Helping Children With Anxiety
By Randi Morse
It's in a parent's nature to try to protect and nurture their children. When your child gets injured, you immediately go into parent mode. You assess the situation, determine if a visit to a professional is necessary, and take care of the injury. But what do you do if your child is dealing with severe anxiety? Unlike physical medical problems, mental health problems don't often have an easy fix. This can leave parents struggling, wanting to help their child through such a difficult time but unsure how to do so.
Childhood psychology experts will tell you that you should never invalidate your child's feelings. If your child fears flying, for example, the last thing you should do is tell them that they have absolutely nothing to worry about and make them feel like they're making a big deal over nothing. A better option is to validate your child's concern. Explain that yes, you do know that sometimes plane accidents happen, but that you have picked a safe airline and that you will be with them the whole time if they feel uncomfortable. There are even websites you can use that demonstrates common airplane sounds so that those who fear flying know exactly what each sound is, minimizing anxiety.
We all need to have coping kits, even adults who don't struggle with anxiety. A coping kit is an array of skills that you utilize when your anxiety is rising. They help you to calm your body and your mind, lowering the anxious feeling you're struggling with. Talk to your children about building their own coping kit. Help them learn techniques such as deep breathing, writing out their worries, or talking with an adult. Having these tools in their anxiety tool belt will allow them to learn how to lower their anxiety even when you're not with them.
Schedule and Slowing Down
Today's parents often find themselves running from one activity to another, rushing to get dinner, and hurrying along bedtime. If you have a child that's dealing with anxiety, it's a better idea to slow down and make a realistic schedule. It's OK for your child to not play every sport, and they don't need to go to every party either. Even if your child wants to do these things, as parents it's our responsibility to ensure that our children's health, which includes their mental health, comes first.
Helping your child deal with a mental illness is tough, but there are medical and psychological professionals that you can contact for help. Don't hesitate to cultivate that important resource.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Cincinnati, Ohio.