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Tips to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety

March 27, 2015

tips for kids with sensory issues

Contrary to popular belief, being a child isn’t all fun and games. Everyday moments that thrill some children – like making new friends, riding in an airplane or going to a new school – provoke anxiety in other children, and sometimes, children face extraordinary situations, like illnesses or injuries, which cause additional stress.

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help ease your child’s anxiety. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage your child to discuss his feelings. When he is able to label his emotions (i.e. happy, sad, mad), it can help to reduce stress. Don’t tell him that his fears are “silly” or “not real.” Empathize and reassure him, “I want to know how you are feeling, because I care about you.”
  • Develop a routine. A routine for everyday occurrences (like meals, bathing and bedtime) can help your child feel safe and secure. Knowing what to expect is comforting and can help him relax.
  • Be consistent. One of the best ways to create feelings of safety is to be consistent. If you tell your child you are going to do something, make sure you follow through – even with disciplinary issues. If you tell your child he is losing screen time for his actions, press the off button.
  • Fight the urge to protect him (all the time). When you try to talk your child down from his fears or allow him to avoid situations that make him fearful, it sends the message that he has a reason to be afraid. Instead, help him face his fears.
  • Reward him for bravery. When you catch your child trying to be brave, reward him. A reward doesn’t have to be an expensive bribe. Give him a high five or simply tell him that you are proud of him. 
  • Lead by example. When you use techniques to reduce stress in your own life, you are providing your child with a positive example. The best way to teach coping skills to children is to use positive coping skills yourself. Yoga, anyone?
  • Use stories to open a line of communication. Children do not have self-awareness, like adults, or the ability to express how they are feeling. When you engage your child in a story, you help him to understand more complex concepts by communicating on his level. Search for therapeutic books that have characters you think your child can connect with or encourage your child to write his own story. Use characters – like superheroes – to fight off “Mr. Anxiety.” Be creative!
  • Check in with yourself. Even though children don’t always tell us, they see how mom and dad deal with stressful situations. Children often mirror our own feelings/reactions back to us. If you struggle with anxiety, a counselor can help you to manage your symptoms. Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit has a behavioral health counselor on staff to help parents deal with this issue.

To request an appointment with a Good Shepherd Pediatrics expert, please call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).