How can I relieve my child’s anxiety quickly? It is typical for a child sometimes to be scared, worried, and anxious. Some children are more prone to anxiety. Factors like genetics, temperament, environment, and trauma are the main factors that contribute to anxiety. This article provides more information about panic and fear: “What are panic and anxiety really?“. Excessive stress that impairs day-to-day functioning is seen as an anxiety disorder.
Child anxiety statistics
- Anxiety is the most widespread problem in children and adolescents.
- 4.4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety. That is 7.1% of the global child population.
- During Covid-19, the prevalence of child and adolescent anxiety increased substantially. A Study by Racine N et al. indicated that since the covid-19 pandemic, child and adolescent anxiety has doubled compared with pre-pandemic estimates.
Our children are clearly in distress. The questions remain:
- What is child and adolescent anxiety?
- What are the symptoms?
- Can you establish triggers for child stress?
- How can I relieve my child’s anxiety quickly?
What is child and adolescent anxiety?
All children are anxious at times. It is typical from an early age. Think about the eight-month-old baby that does not want to leave her mother. Or the young child who shows extreme distress when she must attend school for the first time. Young children are often nervous in the dark, during a thunderstorm, or when they encounter a large dog. These are normal behavior for a child.
However, overly anxious children are nervous and tense most of the time. They need a lot of reassurance and may be hesitant to participate in activities. Very often, these children are eager to please. They may be quiet and complacent.
Some children do not outgrow the fears and worries that youngsters typically experience. When the concern continues and interferes with the child’s activities, the child may suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Your child can be just as overwhelmed with worrying thoughts about the future as her parents. It will affect her physically and emotionally. And it will influence her behavior in uncertain situations.
The truth is that uncertainty breeds anxiety.
Triggers of child anxiety
Triggers for anxiety vary among age groups.
Small children worry about their parents and close family. They are worried that they may be separated from their caregivers. Young children also worry about their own and their parent’s health.
Adolescents are more worried about social relationships and schoolwork. The pandemic interrupted the normality of their lives rudely. Teenagers are concerned that they have fallen behind in their education and may fail. They are also worried about friends and friendships.
Any trauma is a huge trigger for anxiety. Traumatic events include:
- the death of a loved one,
- being bullied,
- moving house or school,
- being in an accident,
- chronic illness of a parent or the child, or
- financial difficulties.
These issues must be resolved to increase the healing of the child.
What are the symptoms of child and adolescent anxiety?
Infants, toddlers, and young children may display the following behaviour:
- Being clingy and dependent
- Crying continuously, without reason
- Low appetite and not eating enough
- Having sleep disturbances. Your child may frequently wake up or have nightmares.
- Regressive behaviour. Your child may suddenly want a bottle or wet her pants during the day.
- Tantrums and anger outbursts can be an indication of anxiety.
- Fussiness and irritability. It may seem as if your child is obstinate.
- Sudden bedwetting after they have been potty trained.
- Anxiety when separated from caregivers.
- Sudden extreme fears (E.g., for dog, insects, the doctor).
- Complain about tummy aches, headaches, and feeling unwell.
- Nausea or constipation or using the toilet often.
- Being afraid of the school and other people.
- Have repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear. This may come with symptoms like heart pounding, troubled breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty (panic disorder).
- Constant worry and negative thoughts about the future.
- Difficulty to concentrate.
Older children and adolescents may show the following signs. Some of these signs can also indicate depression.
- Moodiness and irritability
- Worry about things before they happen
- Concern about family, school, friends, or activities
- Repetitive, thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)
- Fears of making mistakes
- Low self-esteem and self-confidence
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in eating patterns
- Difficulty with concentration, memory and thinking patterns
- Drop in academic effort
- Changes in appearance and hygiene
- Use of drugs or alcohol
How to relieve your child’s anxiety quickly
The main question remains: How can I relieve my child’s anxiety?
It is essential to remember that your child is susceptible to your feelings and moods. If you express fear and anxiety, it will affect your child. It may be not easy always to be calm and relaxed. But remember that stress is contagious. You can find ways to help you manage your anxiety in the article “How to successfully cope with intense anxiety.” You must be able to help yourself before caring for your child.
The primary things that will help your child manage her anxiety are a nutritious diet, enough sleep, and physical activities. She also needs routine and lots of love and support. So, let’s look at ways you can use to help relieve your child’s anxiety.
How to talk to your anxious child
There are essential things to do when you talk to an anxious child:
- Relax your shoulders like a coat hanging over a coat hanger.
- Take a deep breath and breath slowly out.
- Lower the pitch of your voice. Remember, a high rise increases anxiety.
- Talk softly, slowly, and calmly.
- Guide your child through the 4-2-6 exercise. (Inhale for 4 counts, keep your breath for 2 counts and slowly breathe out for at least 6 counts).
- Be like a broken record. Ensure your child that she will be able to manage the problem. She must know that you believe in her. Remember that an anxious child does not feel confident in themselves.
- Help her decide on an action that will solve the problem and alleviate her anxiety. This will give her a feeling of control.
Fun activities will reduce intense anxiety.
Few things are so effective in treating anxiety as laughter. Spending half an hour a day playing with your child will help relax both of you. Wrestling or tickling are suitable activities. Other physical activities like dancing can be great fun. Or you can do girl’s things like “facials” or “manicures” and “pedicures.” A back rub will increase emotional intimacy between you and your child. The touch is nurturing, and repetitive movements are calming.
Routine offers structure and safety
A set routine provides predictability. It also gives an order in a day that may often feel chaotic. If your child knows what to expect, she will be better prepared and able to get through the day.
A bedtime routine is beneficial. It gives your child a feeling of safety. Calming your child before she goes to sleep will improve sleeping habits. Bedtime is an excellent opportunity to communicate with your child. Choose appropriate books to read at night. It will enable you to talk about things and feelings that matter to your child. In this article, “Bibliotherapy: Read books you love for improved mental health,” you can read about the therapeutic value of books.
Search for music that has a calming effect on your child. Music has a powerful emotional impact. It can be valuable to relieve your child’s anxiety. It can also improve sleep quality.
What about professional treatments and medication?
You do not want to give your child unnecessary medication. However, anxiety can become so severe that your child cannot function in school or between friends. Your child may refuse to attend a school or visit family. She may not enjoy activities that she used to love. Her school marks may drop, and she may have low self-esteem.
When anxiety gets worse, self-help may not be effective anymore. It would be best to consider treatment by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. They will assess your child and discuss a treatment plan with you.
Anxiety problems can be treated. When treated early future difficulties can be prevented. Various treatments are available:
- Play therapy or individual psychotherapy
- Family therapy
- School consultations
- Behavioural therapy
Anxiety can have debilitating effects on the development of your child. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can help to relieve your child’s pressure. Researchers established that anxiety runs in families. Knowing how to alleviate your stress will make it easier to understand and help your child.
All people are anxious at times. Would you please share how you managed to relieve your child’s anxiety quickly?
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