Embrace the Challenge of Raising a Child Suffering From Anxiety
Are you the parent of a child with anxiety? If so, you should know you are not alone. An increasing number of children are being diagnosed with anxiety. Let’s face it: We live in anxious times. The economy is mired in a recession, kids are spending more time staring at screens than interacting with their peers and there are countless distractions. However, there is reason for hope. Be proactive and you can help your child overcome his or her anxiety.
Acknowledge Your Child’s Anxiety
The first step toward addressing your child’s anxiety is to acknowledge it exists. Do not attempt to gloss over the fact that there is a significant problem. Put your child’s anxiety front and center, recognize it poses a challenge, and discuss it with your little one. Your child will be quite thankful that you broached the topic even if he or she does not admit it out loud.
If you have suffered from anxiety yourself, let your child know. It is important that your child knows he or she is not the only one who suffers from anxiety. If no one else in your family has struggled with anxiety, let your child know many of his peers have the same problem. This awareness makes it that much easier for your child to cope with his or her problem, understand it is something that can be overcome, and feel at least somewhat normal. Do not lose sight of the fact that kids want to fit in. If they know others in their age group also suffer from anxiety, they won’t feel like outcasts and ultimately feel less anxious.
Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you are struggling to help your little one feel comfortable, calm, and collected, you should know help is available. Between school counselors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals, there are plenty of resources to tap into. In some cases, simply talking to someone outside of the home about anxiety is all a child needs to make meaningful progress. After all, your kids can only have so many conversations with you and your significant other until the conversations no longer prove impactful. Furthermore, there are some things kids do not feel comfortable discussing with their parents.
Even if you suffered from anxiety yourself, there is no guarantee your child’s anxiety will be exactly the same as yours. Schedule an appointment with a counselor or another mental health professional, encourage your child to be honest about his or her anxiety during that session and you will have taken an important step toward solving the problem. In some cases, a discussion between your child and his or her teacher is all that is necessary to make progress toward alleviating the anxiety.
Engage in a Dialogue as Opposed to a Monologue
Listen carefully when the subject of anxiety is discussed. Resist the temptation to engage in a top-down monologue. Let your child steer the conversation, respond with carefully crafted responses and encourage your child to continue sharing his or her thoughts with you. In some cases, simply openly discussing the problem makes it that much easier to overcome it. Be receptive, display empathy, and speak with an upbeat, positive tone in spite of the fact that this is a depressing topic.
Resist the temptation to suggest the solutions that worked for your own anxiety, demonstrate an understanding of your child’s challenges and you will be one step closer to a solution. Even if it takes months or years for your little one to overcome this unique challenge, addressing it in a proactive manner is better than ignoring it and letting it fester until it proves overwhelming.