First, do not dismiss their feelings. It is not helpful to tell your child not to worry about their fears. This may make them feel bad about worrying or feeling anxious. Be sure to reassure your child that it is okay to feel bad and ask them to share their thoughts and emotions.
Be available to listen when they want to talk. This is very comforting to your child. However, if they do not feel like talking, do not make them. Just let them know you are there and available if they need you. Continue to reassure them of your love and support.
It can be helpful to offer something that your child enjoys, such as cuddling or playing a favorite game. This may help distract them from their anxiety and make them feel better.
Another way to boost your child’s mood is to give them a chance to exercise. Take them for a walk or go outside for some type of physical activity and to get some fresh air. These may be just the thing to lift their spirits and provide them a new perspective.
It is important to continue routines. If there have been changes, it is important to maintain as much of the routine schedule as possible. Try and stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes, if at all possible.
Another important consideration is to maintain your child’s health. Ensure your child is eating right and getting the sleep they need. If your child’s routine is disrupted with missed meals or not enough sleep, it can contribute to their anxiety. Ensuring they eat nutritious meals and get enough sleep will equip them with the tools they need to cope with their anxiety.
One of the prime reasons our children feel stressed is that they are scheduled for too many activities. We all want our children to succeed, but signing them up for too many extracurricular activities can actually do more harm than good. When children have too many commitments, they can begin to feel stress and become anxious. Children need downtime just like adults do, so allow your child some quiet time when they can decompress and spend some time alone.
In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle, it is very easy for our children to become too exposed to upsetting news stories. Seeing or hearing upsetting images of natural disasters or hearing about violent episodes can be very disturbing to your child. Take the time to talk to them about what they are seeing or hearing and reassure your child that they are not in danger and neither is their family. Discuss with them how humanitarian groups are helping and ways they can help, too.
If you find that you are still dealing with child anxiety, consider seeking the support or guidance of a counselor or medical provider. These experts may be able to provide advice or treatment that can help your child cope and feel less anxious.