As a parent, it’s natural to worry about your child’s mental health. Did you know that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 4-16 has a probable diagnosable mental health challenge? That’s a lot of kids! But the good news is that you can help.
The Role of Parents in Helping Children with Anxiety
Anxiety happens when our children feel like the demands of a situation are greater than their resources to manage it. This is not about their actual capabilities, but rather their perception of their capabilities. If your child is struggling with things like being away from you, participating in class, or joining after-school activities, they may be feeling anxious and need your help.
Signs of Anxiety in Children
There are some common signs of anxiety in children that you can look for, such as difficulty falling asleep, complaining of an upset stomach, seeking constant reassurance, controlling behaviors, and struggling with big emotions. So, how can you help a child with anxiety? One way is to explain the physiology of stress. Children need to understand what’s happening in their bodies when they worry about something. Once they understand that their body is just responding to what it perceives as danger, it can help normalize the experience. Another way is to problem-solve strategies to reduce the physiological response to stress. This might involve slowing their breathing or finding a “happy place” to retreat to in their imagination. And speaking of imagination, harnessing your child’s imagination to create a “safe place” can be a powerful tool in managing anxiety.
Coping with the Challenges of Helping an Anxious Child
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed when it comes to helping your anxious child. You’re not alone, and neither is your child. These strategies take time and practice, but they can be very effective. If you feel like you need more support, there are resources available such as podcasts and websites that can offer additional guidance.
Importance and Strategies for Prevention
It’s also important to remember that prevention is better than cure, so it’s never too early to start teaching your child coping skills and strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Encourage your child to talk about their worries, model healthy coping mechanisms, and provide a supportive and understanding environment.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health and feel like you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mind Institute or Mind Center for Special Needs. Together, we can work towards reducing the number of children struggling with mental health challenges and create a brighter future for our kids.