Mental health problems are, statistically and anecdotally, more common than ever. However, it’s not only children who are at risk of experiencing those issues. Children are also at threat. Worse still many youngsters won’t understand the thoughts running through their minds or the impact it has on their physical health. As a parent, staying on top of this situation is vital from nursery years all the way through to their teens and beyond.
If a child shows signs of anxiety, it’s important that you seek help on their behalf. Professionals can use a range of treatments and coping mechanisms to support your son or daughter. They include medication, therapy, and more. Nonetheless, prevention is always seen as the best form of protection, even if it’s only to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Here are some of the top tips that parents can implement to help prevent anxiety at key moments in their child’s life.
1| Remove The Sense Of Not Knowing
As any parent who has ever had anxiety will confirm, the fear of entering an unfamiliar situation is often the worst part of all. This is particularly true when it’s a setting where those concerns are rational. For children, an array of circumstances fall into this category. As such, removing the unfamiliarity is highly advised.
Perhaps the most pressurised situations relate to schooling. Therefore, concepts like sitting 11 plus mock exams can work wonders. It’s not just about understanding the questions that may appear. It also prepares kids for the exam room setting. When they are no longer scared about this, they can focus clearly on the test itself.
Other settings that may bring stress and anxiety include doctor appointments and visits to the dentist. Introducing kids to these places at an early age should help stop anxiety of this kind.
2| Be Transparent In Key Moments
Confusion is another major trigger of anxiety in children. Sadly, many parents are guilty of contributing to this by withholding key information in moments where kids need it. Transparency is a key ingredient in the recipe for a successful home relocation. It lets children process the information and prepare for the big moment.
Transparency shouldn’t be limited to moving properties, though. Single parents won’t want to introduce kids to new partners prematurely but honesty is key when serious relationships start. Otherwise, it can get the relationship between your lover and children off to a bad start. And this can only increase the threat of anxiety.
As well as reducing the risks of anxiety, it’s a great way to promote a better parent-child relationship. After all, it will be built on trust and honesty rather than secrecy. And it’ll help with the next point in this guide too.
3| Encourage Openness From Kids
Transparency shouldn’t be a one-way street. When kids are encouraged to be open, they will be more comfortable and confident with their feelings. In turn, they will be more likely to tell you that they are experiencing thoughts of anxiety. Even if they don’t understand what anxiousness is, you will. And it enables you to act accordingly.
Crucially, the open discussions will allow you to spot signs of anxiety and other mental health issues. This is before they develop into serious problems. Youngsters may feel anxious for a host of reasons ranging from fears of being bullied to worries about taking their first flight. Whatever the source, being aware of the situation ASAP is key.
When older children are open about their feelings, they can learn to spot the sign for themselves. Together, you can work on coping mechanisms and focus on activities that keep anxiety to a minimum.
4| Know How To Calm Attacks
As well as preventing anxiety attacks, you should also be equipped with ideas of how to combat them if they do surface. Quick action can ensure that symptoms of anxiety are kept under control. As well as reducing their stress and turmoil during the current situation, it should make them less fearful of future episodes.
Medications and topical oils may help in some cases, although it’s best to seek medical advice before introducing them. For children, though, distracting them with music or fidget toys can be equally rewarding. Calming their body and mind for a few minutes will often see the anxiety attack pass without major incident.
When considering this part of anxiety management, you must remember that attacks can occur at any time. As such, you must be ready to provide distractions or other tactics in any situation. Not just at home.
5| Be Aware Of Triggers
Nobody knows your child better than you do. So, you’ll have a far better idea of what makes your child show signs of anxiety. Is it the thought of crowded places? Being around unfamiliar faces? Long journeys? Visual and audio elements? Knowing when those issues might surface in daily situations will enable you to think about prevention tips.
If your child becomes anxious around loud noises, you may wish to avoid some environments. Alternatively, you can invest in noise-cancelling ear defenders. Blocking out the noise and playing soft gentle music through the headphones can be life-changing. Suddenly, they will be able to enjoy events like fireworks displays without fear.
Similarly, you can think about in-car DVD players or plan days out when attractions are less busy. Making simple alterations to your life in alignment with your child’s needs, and anxiety will become a far less prominent feature in your lives.
6| Educate Them
Once children are old enough to understand anxiety and their emotions, education will play a key role. It can be a useful way to help them manage anxiety attacks but is equally beneficial for preventing them. This is because they can learn to identify symptoms and triggers for themselves while also reaching out for support when they require it.
In many cases, the early signs of anxiety can be caused by distressing life situations. For example, the first family bereavement turns their lives upside down and can lead to anxiety. Videos, books, and frank discussions about their feelings can work wonders at this time. The emotional comfort gained from your support and understanding count for a lot.
Another simple yet cool idea is to encourage them to write down their concerns or feelings. It is a practice of actively letting those emotions out and can be a key step to moving on from them. It’s very useful in tough life moments but can work at all times.
7| Deal With Your Anxiety
Kids are like sponges that will soak up information and learn habits from their parents. If they can see that you actively struggle with anxiety, it may lead them to do the same. This is because they will begin to fear the same things that you do. So, learning to focus on your personal battle with anxiety could be one of the best ways to support your loved one.
There are many ways to get help with your anxiety. This could mean seeing a therapist, seeking medical support, or learning to overcome irrational fear. The process may take time but now is the ideal moment to begin your journey. Not least because we are slowly returning to normality after the pandemic.
Try to surround yourself with supportive people too. Again, your child will take on far more information than you probably realise. It’s likely that much of your anxiety will be attributed to fears about your child’s safety. Giving them a phone and maintaining contact can reduce this.
8| Encourage Healthy Lifestyles
Physical health and mental wellness are very closely linked. While most people appreciate that healthy living can help combat depression, many do not know the full impact it can have on anxiety. For starters, improved body image can reduce the risk of self-conscious feelings. Pre-teens and teenagers will notice a huge impact. Even primary school kids can.
Regular exercise doesn’t only help with body image, though. It also teaches communication and leadership skills. These can subsequently help your child in an array of situations, making them less prone to feelings of anxiety. Good nutrition and regular hydration keep the body in mind in great health. Likewise, a balanced life promotes greater mental happiness.
For example, controlled screen time can have a positive influence. As well as making the right choices for your son or daughter in the waking hours, you must not forget their sleep. Better sleep patterns will regulate hormones to support them on a biological level.
Whether we like it or not, anxiety is a growing problem in modern society. And it impacts children on a far more frequent basis than we’d like to admit. It’s natural for kids to be scared of certain situations. If they are showing signs that they are becoming an anxious person, though, it’s vital that you tackle the problem right away. Otherwise, you will face an even bigger battle later on.
Above all else, you must remember to work as a family and show consistency. When you do this, anxiety will no longer threaten to disrupt your life. Perfect.