Words and Actions to Calm an Anxious Child
Anxiety is a common mental disorder in the United States, and it affects even children. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), this disorder persists among 25.1% of children ages 13-18 years old. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) adds that symptoms could appear as early as 7 years old. These numbers mean that one in four children show signs of anxiety and bear the possibility of carrying the disorder towards adolescence.
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health understands how anxiety can have a huge impact on a person’s life. This can affect their ability to function in an everyday setting, such as in public places, at the workplace, in school, or in social gatherings. Our psychiatrists in Westport, Connecticut help children learn to manage their anxiety so that in the future, they may lead a balanced and happy life.
How do Children Manifest Anxiety?
Anxiety is a form of stress that stems from the worry or fear that something is about to go wrong. It’s easy to see why young children are prone to it. As they begin to explore the world outside of their home, they may encounter people, things, places, and circumstances that are unfamiliar and threatening to their young minds.
What to Do and What to Say
If you have an anxious child who suffers from mild to severe panic attacks, what you need to do is help him or her manage their fear. You can do and say the following:
- “Can you draw me a picture of it?” This gives your child an outlet and helps him make sense of their fear. Turning their fear into a character demystifies it, which helps to reduce anxiety.
- “Imagine that we’re blowing a balloon.” Sit with your child and encourage them to take deep breaths. Doing this together emphasizes your support without enabling the fear.
- “Let’s pretend you’re a superhero.” Encourage your child to face his or her fears; and that, like their favorite superhero, they are stronger and can conquer those fears.
- “Say, I am strong! I am brave!” Teach your child to say a self-encouraging chant when he feels afraid.
- “It’s okay to worry.” According to psychologists, removing a trigger reinforces a child’s fear. The best way to approach anxiety is to teach children to acknowledge it. Tell your child it’s okay to worry for 10 minutes; but after the time is up, he can put this “character” in a box or a room and set it aside for the meantime.
Dealing with anxious kids is a delicate matter that we can help you with. At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we help not just the children but their parents and guardians as well.
Contact us and learn more about our treatment program.