Yes, it is true, anxiety is not an “adult only thing.” Many children struggle with anxiety as well. While it can be derived from a variety of areas (complex trauma, home environment, health, biology, etc), it does not take away from how heart breaking it can be to live among children with anxiety.
The research shows that parents who experience anxiety, along with many other things, can trickle their anxious tendencies down to their offspring. Children are sponges and they are constantly absorbing conscious and subconscious messages, especially from their loved ones. At some time or another, most people experience bouts of anxiety. For this reason, it is important to be working on one’s own anxiety while also addressing your child’s.
Below are a few tips and tricks for children with anxiety:
- Breathing exercises – Helps with calming and reversing nervous system responses.
- Mindfulness – Helps with focusing on small aspects and one thing at a time.
- Prayer – Helps to rely on something bigger and re-center.
- Yoga – Helps with calming and body awareness.
- Stretches – Helps with calming and body awareness.
- Calming music – Helps with cultivating tranquility.
- Calming jar – Helps with devoting time to get calm.
- Artwork – Helps with emotion processing.
- Empathizing – Helps with normalizing and not feeling so alone.
- Noticing anxious triggers (sounds, events, people etc). – Helps with monitoring anxiety.
- Teaching thought stopping – Helps with halting anxious thoughts and replacing them.
- Creating a worry box – Helps children to write worries and let them go.
- Blowing bubbles – Helps with grounding and exhaling “worry.”
There are a variety of techniques that you can implement to help a child regain control over their anxiety, these are just a few.
Whatever fits for your family and your values, use it.
Above all, be careful not to over identify with anxiety. The more the child thinks “I am anxious. I have anxiety.” The more likely they will take this in as their whole character. They may have “worrisome parts” or “anxious parts”, though it is important to note that it is a part of them, not all of them.