How To Help Your Child Beat Anxiety

why all feelings are real
An anxious child is a big worry and can take its toll on the whole family, as perceived negative emotions are unfortunately easily transferable. Here, Lulu Luckock gives some useful parenting advice.

A new year begins and back to school we go.

Are you and your children ready for another term full of busyness, friends, work and some challenges too?

School is a great place for lots of pupils but for some children it can be a place full of worry and anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion full of high energy and not very pleasant feelings.

This has nothing to do with good or bad parenting and no matter how hard a parent tries to take away the fears, some children can go through stages where everyday at school is an anxious challenge.

Having an anxious child is a big worry and can take its toll on the whole family, as perceived negative emotions are unfortunately easily transferable.

So, what can you do to help?

Anxiety is an emotion full of high energy and not very pleasant feelings.

It is a feeling that we would prefer to deny, yet it has its place in our lives just as loneliness and sadness do too.

Learning to live with and regulate unpleasant emotions from an early age means that difficult feelings are less likely to become troublesome at a later age and stage.

It also helps our children to find strategies to help them to help themselves, building long-term emotional resilience.

Help them to recognise the way their body feels when they start to feel triggered

No matter how uncomfortable are feelings are, they all have their part to play and we need to learn to listen to the messages they are sending us.

We become anxious when our brains think there is something to be afraid of. The amygdala, an ancient, tiny pea sized part of the brain gets triggered by something it perceives to be a threat.

This might be real danger or maybe not, the reason is irrelevant because it feels just as real in both cases.

Luckily for us, the fear of imminent death is not as relevant in this day and age as it was for Stone Age Man but our reaction remains the same.

When the amygdala gets triggered, adrenaline and other stress related hormones are pumped into the body ready to make it faster, stronger and more powerful in order to escape potential danger.

The heart pumps faster, you can start to sweat, shake and feel sick, scary and unpleasant feelings race through the brain and body. No wonder we want to avoid feeling anxious.

The good news is that with time and practice you can help your child understand and control their anxiety and how to train their brain so they are back in charge.

Start by helping them to recognise the way their body feels when they start to feel triggered and anxious because it is in that instant that they hold the power to distract the amygdala.

That is the moment to engage their prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) and put it in back in charge.

The way to do this is to simply STOP right there in that moment and take some deep tummy breathes.

This will immediately bring calm to the body and will stop the fuel that is hijacking the body so it can settle. It is also the only way to let your amygdala know that it’s safe and the thinking and rational mind is back in charge.

When your child has control over their anxiety, they are able to recognise the warning signs, breathe and become the boss of their own brain.

Some ways to help an anxious child –

  • Validate all of your children’s feelings. Talk about them all and don’t be afraid of the uncomfortable ones.
  • Help them to face their fears and to see them for what they are.
  • Discuss their trigger points and the different ways they can stay calm and focused; for example before a test have a drink of water, take a short walk, focus on calm breathing, chat to a friend.
  • Stop being busy all the time.
  • Simplify life, cut back on after school activities and clubs.
  • Make sure they get plenty of sleep.
  • Empower them by teaching about their amazing brain and how it works.
  • Talk about the way your feelings and how all feelings have a part to play in our contract with living a healthy and fulfilled life.
  • Model your coping strategies. Show your children how you cope best with stress and anxiety.
  • Use lavender oil on a hankie for their pocket and on their pillow as a calming, relaxing and grounding smell.
  • Practice simple Mindfulness breathing techniques with your children- like using the index finger to trace up and over the fingers focused on taking a single breath with each finger. This helps engage the prefrontal cortex and settle the amygdala.
  • Help your child to organise themself and as far as possible be in charge of their own routines.

 

Most of all make lots of time for light and laughter as after all that’s what life should be all about.

 

– You can contact Lulu via her website www.simple-family-connection.comor follow her on Instagram @simplefamilyconnection

Join the Discussion on our Forum

mumfidential
More from Lulu Luckock

Ask Lulu: Do nannies and day care affect a child’s development?

Lulu, our parenting expert, is here to answer your child-related questions.This week:...
Read More