Your Anxious Child - Top Tips to Keep them Calm

Try these treats and snacks in lunch boxes or to take along to a morning tea.  Free from added sugar and refined flours, all recipes are gluten free.

Decadent Chocolate Slice

Anxiety in children can be extremely worrying for parents – to see their child dealing with some huge emotions that they can’t control.  It can feel scary, frustrating and exhausting for both parent and child. 

 

Those suffering from anxiety can often feel like they are the only one’s going through it and can’t cope with certain situations when it seems that everyone else can.

 

So, I thought I would share a few tips on helping to keep our little people (and ourselves) calm.

 

  1. The feelings they have are VERY real, and the majority of the time cannot be diffused by telling them to “calm down” or that they’ll be “okay” or that “they will cope” even though it may seem very irrational to you.  Yes, offering hugs etc will help, but dismissing their fears or anxious feelings as something trivial does not help them get over it any easier. In fact, it will most likely mean they will not talk about it if they feel you don’t understand.

  2. Accepting that these feelings are very real to them is key.  Saying reassuring things like “you sound really worried” or “this is obviously upsetting you a lot, tell me more” etc, helps them feel more like you understand and are on their side - that their feelings are being seen and heard and are not just silly things to be ignored. 

  3. Anxiousness can come out in different ways.  It may be physical or emotional, it may be tears, withdrawing or anger.  Try to see behind the behaviour and talk to them about how they are feeling and what’s going on for them.

  4. Teaching them that anxiety is something that is happening to them for a small amount of time.  That this feeling will not last.  That this anxiety isn’t WHO they are, it is just a part of their feelings and they will eventually learn how to gain control of it.

  5. Reminding them that feeling anxious is like having a broken leg – they will feel better in time and in the mean time they need to look after themselves and sometimes push through the fear in small steps (with support) to get to the other side.

  6. Working together to come up with an action plan if this actual “thing” did happen.  Making them see that there is an answer to the worse possible situation in their head, will most likely help them see the reality and that there is a doable course of action to respond to what they are worrying about.  Acting out the situation can be helpful to. 

  7. Teach your child to talk to themselves (in their mind) like they’re the boss, not their anxiety.  Encourage them to learn to stay to themselves “I’m in control of how I feel”, “I know I’ll be okay, I know I’ll get through this, I just need to think of positive outcomes and take things one step at a time”.  Teach them to speak to themselves like they are their own best friend.

  8. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be hugely beneficial to someone dealing with anxiety.  This teaches them to examine their actual thoughts, determine whether it is actually a fact, or just a random thought they have come up with, and to work through the situation if it did actually happen.

  9. Nutrition can help hugely with anxiety too.  Their gut health can be a big player when it comes to its interaction with the brain, so ensuring they are eating healthy foods is very important.  Also looking into probiotics and foods that improve gut health too.

  10. Breathing – teaching them diaphragmatic (belly) breathing techniques for when they are feeling anxious, will help them to activate their Parasympathetic Nervous System – their “calm and happy place”.

  11. Sleep is another important factor. Ensuring they are getting to bed at a decent time helps a lot.  If getting to sleep is an issue (which can happen a lot with anxiety) try some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation for children or listening to soothing music whilst they go to sleep.  Maybe introducing some melatonin supplements may help (from your doctor).

  12. Supplements like magnesium, zinc, and omega 3 oils can be helpful.  As well as using essential oils like lavender and chamomile.  Also Rescue Remedy may help too.

  13. If the anxiety is severe or happens often, consider taking your child to a counsellor or therapist.

If your child is suffering continually from anxiety, remember there is a lot of help out there.  Also, feel free to get in touch with me for some dietary, relaxation and supplement advice, plus I can refer you to other resources and experts that can help you and your child in this difficult situation.

If you have any other tips that can help other parents, please share below.

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