How to Help Your Child Handle Anxiety

What could be more grueling than a child who goes off to school kicking and screaming?

Each morning you’re alarm clock goes off bright and early and you mosey on over to the coffee pot turn it on and just stare.  You are wondering “what is today going to bring”?  Is my child going to get out of bed and go to school without crying and begging to stay home? A million and one things go through your head.  Should I let her stay home?  What if something is happening at school that she isn’t telling me?  For us it isn’t one particular thing, it is anxiety.

Every few weeks it shows its ugly face in my house through my little 6 year old and she has no idea how to deal with it.  It’s so easy to just say tell her to stop or there is nothing to worry about.  But that’s not what her mind is telling her.  All the ‘what ifs’ invade her head on a daily basis and cause her to cry and get physically sick as well.

As a child I never really dealt with anxiety, but as an adult I started dealing with it in my early 20’s.  Having children made my anxiety skyrocket, but I think all parents worry when it comes to their children.

I never thought my children would experience anxiety at such a young age.  Is it me?  Is it my intense need to be on time and when we are late I race through the house like a lunatic?  Is it my job causing stress for all to see since I am a Work at Home Mom?  We all blame ourselves first, but this is life, right?

In the past she has experienced bouts of anxiety, but as she gets older it is harder to get her mind off of it and it tends to last a lot longer.

Getting to the root of the problem is very important, so you are ruling out a potentially threatening situation.  With my daughter it’s usually something harmless that makes her feel out of control and she gets frightened and just wants the comfort of home.

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Empathy

This single most important thing to realize is that anxiety isn’t something you can just turn off, so telling your child to stop worrying isn’t going to happen.  It’s only going to make them feel alone with the intrusive thoughts running through their head.

Let them know you know it’s hard to get up early and go to school all day.  Let them know you understand how they are feeling and listen to them instead of brushing their feelings off because they seem so small to you.

Keep Busy

I have found that the trick is to keep her busy so she has less time to think about what could possibly go wrong.

This has been the key to keeping anxiety at bay for at least a little while.  This is usually as soon as she gets home from school, because worry starts again once the night comes to an end.

Find your child’s favorite past time.  Mine has a love for all things Slime!!  She loves watching videos on slime, making slime, you name it.  Let me tell you it can be messy, but it’s very therapeutic for her, so that means more than the mess to me.

One day we decided to take a calendar making class at the library and she was excited at first, but she worried the whole time about it ending, since it was Sunday and that meant school the next day.  So we went home and made slime and she said “Mommy, I’m not worried anymore”.  So even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally allow because of mess or bad timing, think about the benefits instead of inconvenience.

This is her favorite Slime recipe here.

Reading

My daughter is starting to read books on her own now.  So we picked up a few chapter books at the library and it really keeps her mind off of whatever she is worrying about for a good amount of time.  Find something relatable and humorous.  She loves Junie B. books and even I get into them, they are hysterical.

We’ve also gotten into the self help books to help with management of her anxiety.  They help her to know she is not alone and many kids face the same challenges.

Here are some of our favorites:

Yoga

I love yoga, so getting my daughter into it was pretty easy.  I started due to anxiety during pregnancy and I just kept it up.  We like to do fun poses together and focus on our breathing.  It has become a routine before bed now and it really gives us a chance to calm down while spending time together.

Check out my pinterest board for simple yoga routines for kids.https://pin.it/tagljhhqq7argm

 

Essential Oils

I am no expert on Essential Oils, but a year ago I was having trouble with waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep.  I wanted to try a natural remedy as opposed to medication, so I read up on the benefits of lavender and figured I would give it a try.  I had an expert make me a roll-on with a carrier oil such as jojoba and coconut oil and rubbed it under my nose each night.  I slept wonderfully for 2 months straight.  Every once in a while I will be up for ½ hour to 45 minutes, but definitely an improvement.

Now I do this for my daughter when she feels she is worrying too much and also put some drops in the shower and it steams the bathroom with the scent which is quite calming.

We love making things, so lavendar shower melts are next on our list.

Take Time to Connect

This was really needed in our family.  I have a 2 year old son who needs most of my attention.  The day is usually pretty crazy and he has stopped napping.  I never really took the time to ask my daughter how it was affecting her.  She comes home from school and has to share everything and fight for things she normally didn’t have to.  It can be pretty hard on a little one especially when you are sharing Mommy as well.

I found myself on my phone a lot when I got a break just to zone out for a few minutes.  There I was on Facebook seeing what other families were doing and looking at their pictures, when maybe I should be spending it making memories with my own family.

We started having Mommy-Daughter time on the weekend, even if it’s just shopping together or taking a class at Michaels or the Library.  It has been a game changer because she knows I will always be her Mommy and nobody is going to replace her.

Be Patient

All of these strategies may help, but in time the anxiety will fade, you just need to be patient.  In my experience it fades and she may be just fine for a few months until something else upsets her and triggers the anxiety.  Her doctor has attributed this to just the way she is and perhaps seeking help during those times of high anxiety may help.

Now these suggestions most likely won’t stop anxiety altogether.  For us they are exercises to help us through the times when anxiety is at its highest.  It has pushed us to connect by creating healthy routines of calming activities.

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