Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental conditions affecting children in the United States. If your child has been recently diagnosed with this condition, there’s plenty you can do to help manage it. Here, review anxiety treatment tips for easing apprehension.
5 Anxiety Treatment Tips to Help Your Child
- Don’t Dismiss Emotions
Allow your child to express concerns or fears instead of dismissing them by saying “don’t worry.” Avoiding emotions doesn’t make them go away. Instead, avoidance can worsen anxiety because the child doesn’t have a healthy outlet for venting.
- Emphasize the Positive
Focus on the positive when your child talks about fears. It’s easy for anyone with anxiety to spiral into negative thought patterns, especially children who are still learning how to navigate their feelings. Focus on the positive in any anxiety-ridden situation to thwart negativity. For example, if your child is nervous about attending a birthday party, talk about party favors, games, and cake.
- Make Time for Movement
Provide your child with healthy anxiety treatment ideas such as regular movement. Encourage their love of sports and interest in bikes and animals. Routine physical activity, like walking the dog, floods the brain with endorphins—feel-good brain chemicals that reduce stress. Endorphins also contribute to healthy sleep, but insomnia exacerbates anxiety.
- Avoid Fear-Based Reinforcements
Don’t reinforce your child’s fears with questions. Don’t ask any of these questions: Are you scared to take that test tomorrow? Are you afraid of crossing the street? Are you terrified by barking dogs? Be sympathetic while shifting the conversation to solutions about how to improve test-taking skills and handle interactions with seemingly unfriendly canines.
- Remember to Praise Your Child
Praise all positive behaviors, particularly those that help overcome anxiousness. For example, if your child attended a busy school carnival and had fun playing miniature golf, tell her how proud you are of her and ask for a big hug. Even if she has an anxiety attack, explain that everyone feels anxious sometimes. The right kind of praise builds confidence.