Are you sick of seeing your child worried and stressed out? In this busy modern world, anxiety in children can be a common occurrence. All children respond differently to stress depending on how old they are, what their personality type is, and what their coping skills are like
A lot of the time, kids are not able to verbalise the fact that they are feeling stressed. Often, they may not even understand why they are feeling that way. So, as a parent, you can feel like it is your job to play detective and discover the reason for their stress.
Let’s explore some of the symptoms you can look out for and a few quick tips to help deal with anxiety in children.
Recognising Anxiety In Children
Look out for changes in your child’s behaviour. Try to monitor it over several days so that you can get a clear picture. Check…
- Are they eating like they normally would?
- Is their sleeping affected? Are they waking in the night, having bad dreams, or bed wetting?
- Has their performance at school changed? Are they no longer interested, not doing as well, or not getting their assignments in on time.
- Has there been a negative change in their behaviour where they are talking back, getting into fights, or becoming withdrawn?
- Does their mood seem sad, down, or irritable?
- Do they suddenly have health complaints like a sore tummy, or a headache without any other symptoms?
If you notice a change in your child over a couple of days then try to find a quiet moment to chat with them. Ask them a leading question that will encourage them to speak about their feelings, don’t ask a question that can be answered with a yes or no. That will begin to help them recognise and identify the feelings.
The Holiday Season
Anxiety can be even more common around the festive season. Yes, it is a very happy and exciting time, but it can also cause anxiety in sensitive children. Kids are growing tired as the last few weeks of the school year play out, so they are already sensitive. But throw the excitement of the holidays in and you have a dangerous mix.
With Christmas and the summer holidays approaching, it is a time of overstimulation. There is Santa’s pending arrival, buying gifts, seeing family, taking trips and more late nights than they are used to. Mixed with the tiredness, this overstimulation can be a recipe for anxiety. So be very mindful of how your children are feeling around this time.
Three Coping Techniques
There are three very simple things that you can do to help your child if they are experiencing anxiety. They will encourage relaxation and allow them to cope better with stressful situations.
Tip 1: Breathe
Yes, I know that breathing is instinctive and if they are still alive then they must know how to do it right? But we tend to breathe in a way that is easy, not necessarily in a way that is best for us.
One of the oldest practices or first aid for calming anxiety is to breathe into a paper bag. We don’t normally have paper bags around us so an alternative is to breathe into your cupped hands. Cover your nose and mouth by cupping both hands over them. Breathe in and out gently through your nose. This raises blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. CO2 has a calming effect on the brain and the nervous system.
If the child is prone to frequent anxiety episodes, it might be a good idea to have his breathing assessed through a Breathing Assessment and Capnography session. Breathing correctly ensures good blood CO2 levels which helps increase stress tolerance. The nervous system won’t be so hyperactive.
Tip 2: Downtime
With such busy daily lives, it is really important to factor downtime into the calendar. If your child is asked to constantly rush from one thing to the next, they do not get the time to relax and recuperate. This can increase their stress levels and make it harder for them to process the kind of situations that might cause anxiety. Down time resets the stress levels and makes it easier to cope. Remember that stress increases the drive to breathe thus inducing hyperventilation.
Tip 3: Play Outside
There is something about sitting outside, with the wind in the trees, and the sun shining down that just melts your stress away. Allow your kids to play outside as much as possible. Even better if you can let them play on natural surfaces (like grass, dirt and sand) barefoot. Being in direct contact with nature will relax them. Relaxation is key because it helps to naturally calm the breathing down. As you know from above, calm breathing helps your kids to have a better stress tolerance.
Hopefully these techniques help to make your home a little calmer this holiday season.