From the outside childhood appears to be a happy, carefree time of life and yet for 10 to 20 % of adolescents and children this is not the case. In reality they are displaying symptoms of anxiety – this does not include the ones experiencing stress. There are some things as a parent you can do to help reduce your child’s anxiety and stress.
Encourage them to face their fears rather than run away from them. Our instinct is to avoid situations that we fear and children are no different. The act of avoiding things we fear does nothing to minimize it but fosters the anxiety. By facing their fears your child will find that the anxiety gradually disappears. The body will naturally calm itself as it can’t remain in this high anxiety state once your child sees it’s okay it becomes easier the next time.
It’s okay that they’re not perfect. Parents like to see our children excel in sports and achieve good grades. Sometimes kids just need to be kids with no pressure to always be their best at whatever they’re doing. A healthy balance between succeeding and enjoying being a kid can help reduce your child’s anxiety or stress.
Accentuate the positive. Those prone to stress and anxiety can become caught in thoughts of what’s wrong and critical of themselves. They have a tendency to focus on their negative qualities or lack of success rather than the positive things. Setting the tone by highlighting the positive things and the good aspects of any situation is the way to ease your child’s anxiety or stress.
Schedule relaxing activities. Activities shouldn’t always involve a competition and unstructured play or free time is good for adolescents and children. Free time for playing a game or engaging in a sport minus the emphasis on winning and doing it for the pure joy of it.
Be a role model. Parents are the first example that children learn from as they observe how you live your life. If you avoid stressful situations your child will mimic you by avoiding these things as well. Are you rushed and over scheduled or do they see that your take time for your own needs. Self care is an important part of life and they learn from the way their parents treat themselves. By having a positive attitude you show your children to see the good in things.
Reward your child’s brave behaviour. If they face their fears praise them, hug them even a tangible small reward is nice. Think of it as a motivator rather than a bribe and you may soon find he or she may be brave more often.
Contact Toronto Child Therapists Thrive Therapy for more information on how you can reduce your child’s anxiety.