Anxiety is not only limited to adults struggling with high expectations, fear of rejection, and experiencing stress from a demanding job. Children can also feel anxious about their struggles of growing up. It might be from the pressure of making friends at a new school, learning from their mistakes, or making good grades for their parent’s approval. It might even be more difficult at that young age because children are still learning to name their emotions.
Parents can help teach their child about managing his anxiety and worries, letting him know that what he is going through is a normal part of life. This support system is especially crucial during difficult changes, such as moving houses or starting in a new school with unfamiliar faces. Here are three techniques that parents can do to ease their child’s anxiety.
Use stories for better understanding
Stories can help children understand and accept what they’re feeling concretely and imaginatively. They can learn to identify with the characters and see that they are not alone in their worries and problems. Parents can also observe how their child responds to the stories, giving a good insight into the source of the problem as well as ideas on possible solutions.
Another method of storytelling is creating your child’s personal worry character. This personification will make it easier for children to separate their emotions and logic. They can talk to the character and convince it that they can overcome the negative feelings. Narrative therapy uses this technique of externalization to help clients separate themselves from the problem for a more objective view.
Introduce journaling or writing a diary
Anxiety is the brain’s survival response to avoid danger. Often, the mind exaggerates the worry, which can lead to heightened emotions and actions that are not appropriate for the situation. Writing a diary can help children, even adults, identify the source of the worries and see if their reaction is warranted. This kind of documentation instills the discipline of giving feelings a second thought and collect evidence that can support or negate the idea.
Journaling is also a useful stress management tool since it serves as an outlet to release pent-up feelings and thinking. Writing about the experiences can help the brain organized its thoughts and see what happened. Parents can even do this practice together with their children.
Help them create a checklist
Checklists can give structure to a panicking mind, outlining what needs to be done. Grown-ups know their benefits in managing a never-ending list of tasks, from scheduling landscape maintenance to remembering to buy milk from the grocery.
Children can also use the magic of checklists to know what to do whenever they feel anxious. They can first identify the symptoms of anxiety, such as finding it hard to concentrate, being filled with negative thoughts, and lacking the energy to do everyday activities. If the boxes are ticked, they proceed to the step-by-step method of calming down, which may include breathing exercises, journaling, or talking to their parents.
Learning to take care of one’s mental health applies to all ages. Problems like anxiety can happen to anyone. Parents can help children manage their stress through storytelling, journaling, and creating checklists.