My anxious child

Children these days experience a lot of pressure due to exposure to formal learning too early, pressure to reach developmental milestones earlier, to perform better and take part in more activities. All the pressure sadly takes its toll.

Anxiety in children is not a rare phenomenon. Many factors can contribute to a child’s level of anxiety such as temperament, personality and support systems. Some children do perform better under a limited amount of pressure or stress and handle major changes without experiencing anxiety while other children do not cope with the above mentioned.

Children from all ages can experience a degree of anxiety and it is important that parents know the signs and act on it.

A few signs of anxiety include the following:

  • Avoidance of activities they used to enjoy;
  • Withdrawing from social interaction;
  • Changing behaviour such as changes in sleep routine (sleeping more or less or frequent nightmares), eating (eating more or less), biting nails, bedwetting etc.;
  • Worrying about future events long in advance;
  • Irritability;
  • Trouble concentrating.

There are different natural remedies that relieve anxiety, but therapies such as play therapy can help the child express those feelings and learn coping strategies to handle anxiety effectively.

When you suspect that your child feels anxious, the most important thing you can do is to stay calm. Be patient with your child. Your anxiety and fears about the situation will only add more stress to the child’s anxiety.

Do not punish a child who has difficulty coping with daily activities. Do not criticise or compare them to other children. Rather make them feel loved. Anxious children need support from parents and caregivers to handle social situations and stressful events positively.

Tips on supporting an anxious child:

  • Identify the possible source/s of anxiety and act on it.  
  • Have a healthy, reasonable routine at home. Anxious children cope better in structured environments.
  • Prepare them for the day by talking them through the activities ahead, possible outcomes of different situations and ways they can handle their fears and anxieties.
  • Adjust the child’s diet and avoid artificial sugars, colorants and processed foods as it contributes to anxiety.
  • Relaxation exercises help children to cope in stressful situations.

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