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5 Ways to Equip Your Anxious Child

The plan was to get a group of old college friends together over the holidays. You’d been looking forward to it for weeks, regaling the kids with stories of all the fun you had in school and assuring them that they’d make new friends; a great time would be had by all.

But when you arrived at the party, your sweet four-year-old put up a HUGE fuss, hid behind your legs, and wailed, “I wanna go home!”

A room full of strangers, most of whom are bigger than your little one, coupled with lots of noise, and lots of other children can be overwhelming. The anxiety from novel situations, new people, and the unknown may result in a mild case of the jitters for some children. It can also cause full-blown anxiety in others.

Anxious behaviors can be difficult for both parents and kids. Anxiety is normal when a person is under stress or in danger. In young children, anxiety may take the form of whining, crying, nervousness, fear, shyness or obstinate behavior. Children often don’t have the language skills to describe exactly what they are feeling. And when parents get frustrated with what appears to be a simple situation, they only compound the problem.

Here are some tips to help you assist your children through anxious situations

  1. Let your child know feeling anxious is normal for everyone. Share your personal stories of times you’ve tried something new. When Mom, Dad or a sibling have experienced nervousness and share, the feeling is normalized.
  2. Describe what the child can expect to experience and what your expectations are for the child in that situation. Knowing what’s expected goes a long way in encouraging confidence. Relating the new experience to other times the child has been brave when trying new things paves the way for success. Have your child practice skills like shaking hands, making eye contact, and asking polite questions beforehand.
  3. Allow a sibling or friend to go with your child to a new location or when making a new acquaintance. There’s strength in numbers.
  4. Take a comfort item along and teach relaxation techniques. A furry friend or a toy can make a huge difference. Having an item to carry gives the child a sense of comfort and something to occupy hands and the mind. A simple “XO” in watercolor marker on your child’s hand will remind him of your love and confidence in him. Deep breathing, mindfulness, and praying are all helpful techniques to calm little hearts and minds. Model the strategies for your child.
  5. Remind your child of your love and the promise you’ll always be there to support and encourage. 

While many children deal with temporary anxiety from time-to-time, it is important to get help if your child’s anxiety is affecting their everyday life. If your child begins to avoid new situations, has trouble eating, difficulties sleeping or demonstrates radical behaviors initiated by anxiety, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Healthcare professionals can provide solutions for overly anxious children. 

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Categories:  Parenting Tips
Keywords:  Parenting Tips

About the Author

Becky Danielson, M.Ed.

Becky Danielson, M.Ed.

Becky Danielson, M.Ed., has two of the best job descriptions, wife and mom. She is also a licensed Parent & Family Educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and the co-author of Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love along with Study Guides. The series is available on Amazon. Becky and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Subscribe to the parenting newsletter at FaithFirstParent.com and the quarterly newsletter at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com for parenting tips, strategies, and resources to equip and encourage you on your parenting journey.

 



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