As parents and caregivers, we have all felt helpless at one point in time as we watch our children experience the adverse effects of anxiety. Maybe your child becomes anxious before a doctor's visit or feels overwhelmed at the thought of giving a class presentation.
Some anxiety is a normal part of childhood that may lessen over time and as your child develops interpersonal skills. However, in some instances, children who experience anxiety on a more regular basis or in certain circumstances require our assistance in finding healthy ways to cope. Around 20% of children are born with an over-anxious temperament.
If your child suffers from bouts of anxiety, it may seem like there is little you can do or say that helps calm them at the moment. At times, parents may employ a host of tactics to manage their anxious child to no avail. This is because our bodies have a physical and an emotional reaction to anxiety.
The feeling kids experience when they are anxious causes their body's to react in a fight, fight, or freeze response. Heart rates increase, adrenaline is released, blood pressure rises, and breathing rates hasten when anxiety triggers the body's sympathetic nervous system to activate. The child's physical response when anxious suggests that it is challenging for them to think logically and control their behavior when experiencing an anxiety attack.
While there is no magic wand for calming your child when they are experiencing anxiety, there are some steps you can take to help them more quickly regain their sense of safety.
Focus On Breathing
When anxious, children take shallow, rapid breaths that originate in their chests. Try to slow down their breathing by using their abdomen to take slower, deeper breaths. Help them breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five and slowly increase the time.
Use The Senses Approach
When in the fight, flight, or freeze mode, emotions are running high, and your child has lost control of logical thinking. Help bring their minds into focus by having them engage with their body's responses to bring them under control. You can do this by asking your child to name one thing they hear, see, and think in the moment, which directs their concentration and focus by narrowing their attention.
Make An Anxiety Plan
Children who have a plan of action to manage their anxiety gain confidence in handling stressful situations. Your anxiety plan should include the calming strategies that work for your child and many natural supplements that increase their cognitive ability to cope with stressors. By having an anxiety plan in place, your family can logically manage the adverse effects of anxiety better.