It is not unusual for children in today’s fast-paced world to feel anxiety or worry. Therefore, parents and caregivers need to learn about the causes of anxiety in children and how to help them cope with these difficult emotions.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) report, anxiety disorders are among children and teenagers’ most common mental illnesses (National Institute of Mental Health n.d.). It is normal for children to worry. It can be triggered by various factors, including academic pressures, social situations, or everyday events such as attending a different school or meeting new friends. If not addressed, anxiety disorders can develop.
Understanding why a child is worried can help them better cope with their feelings. For example, children might worry about the following:
- Children can worry about their performance in extracurricular or academic activities. Children may fear failure, disappointing others, or failing to meet expectations.
- Children worry about social situations. They may be concerned about fitting in, making friends, or being judged.
- Health and Safety: Children can worry about their health or that of their family members, particularly in times of crisis or uncertainty.
- Separation Anxiety: Young children may experience separation anxiety when they are away from their primary caregivers or parents.
Parents and caregivers must validate their child’s feelings and help them to develop strategies to deal with their worries. Here are some suggestions to help children navigate the world of fear.
- Encourage open communication. Create a safe and supportive environment where children can express their feelings. Ask open-ended, honest questions, and pay attention to what they say.
- Teach relaxation exercises: Introduce your child to techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, or mindfulness. These techniques can help your child manage their anxiety and gain control over their emotions.
- Encourage your child to solve problems: Break down your child’s worries into manageable pieces. Then, encourage your child to discuss and brainstorm possible solutions.
- Children learn a lot by watching adults. Show children healthy ways to deal with stress and worry, like seeking support from friends or engaging in self-care activities.
- Consult a professional if needed: If your child is experiencing persistent or excessive worry, which interferes with daily life, you may want to seek professional help.
Parents and caregivers must recognize and validate children’s worries and anxiety. We can empower our children by providing a supportive atmosphere, teaching relaxation techniques, and encouraging problem-solving.