What parents of anxious children should know

Having a child that has anxiety can bring stress and uncertainty to your life as a parent. Knowing what kind of adjustments you should make in your home and parenting to help your child cope with their anxiety and become the best they can be for some can be an uncertain and difficult path to navigate. If your child has been diagnosed with anxiety here are some key tips to help you navigate the path ahead from Worrywisekids and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

1. Having expectations of your child is good

You would expect any child to interact with other people during activities, go to events and make decisions. While your child’s anxiety can make it more difficult to do these things it’s important that you have the same expectations of them as you would of other children. However, it’s important to note that you will likely have to take things at a slower pace and work towards goals with them. Help your child to slowly work towards those goals by breaking them down into smaller steps and acting things out. For example, if your child gets anxious about going to birthday parties because of interaction with others it can help to act out scenarios of interaction at the birthday party at home. But, you may want to modify expectations during stressful periods while working towards goals.

2. You can help your child become stronger

While your child is facing their fears, it is important to give positive encouragement when they accomplish things (no matter how small), and try to avoid punishing mistakes or slow progress. Try to find ways for your child to show their competence and success in their own way. House chores are a fantastic way for your child to have a way to contribute to the family. Having a hobby or activity that they do regularly and enjoy, whether artistic or athletic, is also a great way for your child to show that they are strong individuals that have skills that they can take pride in.

3. Letting go a little bit can help your child gain independence

Every child faces challenges when learning how to deal with the tests of life. It’s important that any child feel like their parent thinks that they can successfully face these challenges. Immediately jumping to do tasks for your child can remove current discomfort from them but in the long-term can make them feel as if they are unable to do the task at all. Instead, showing your child how you think through approaching or doing the challenge and how you go about answering their questions can help them reassure themselves and tackle the challenges themselves, knowing they are capable of taking them on.

4. Teaching your child about their emotions is essential

Pay attention to your child’s feelings. It can be difficult for some anxious children to express their emotions because they fear others will become angry with them for having them. Let them know it’s ok to have and express all their emotions and model self-care behavior. Taking time for yourself to take care of your emotional health models to your child that it’s ok to take time for theirs and that it’s good to take care of yourself. It’s important that you not pass on your fear to your child and show them that anxiety is something they can cope with.

5. Being as consistent as possible helps your child

Flexibility is important for children with anxiety, but maintaining a normal routine can help them by providing consistency. This is true when it comes to parenting too. It’s important that parents or caregivers work together to have regular ways that your child’s anxiety is dealt with in a way that everyone is comfortable with. This will allow your child to know what to expect.

6. Don’t allow their anxiety to become a scapegoat for bad behaviour

You shouldn’t punish your child for lack of progress or mistakes they make because of their anxiety, but when bad behavior emerges you should hold your child to the same expectations of their peers. Consistent limits and consequences for inappropriate behavior paired with love and care are important for any child as well as anxious children.

If you suspect your child has anxiety or your child has been diagnosed with anxiety contact us for information about how our pediatric services can help. We can conduct them at our Pickering clinic or in the convenience of your own home.