Anxiety is one of the most common disorders found in young adults nowadays. Anxiety is characterized by a string of different characterizations most common of which is worrying and panic about the future, near events. Anxiety can be caused by or be caused by social interactions. Anxiety can also be characterized by physical symptoms such as a sudden surge in blood pressure, vomiting etc.
Know that people who have Anxiety are always unsure, of themselves, of other’s trust in them. So anyone who actually means well and wants to help anyone with anxiety, they can quickly fall into a negative cycle and overwhelm the person with their ‘support’.
Especially with parents. Parents often fall into this cycle of an unhealthy way of trying, and when they see that their methods aren’t working, get mad at their child with anxiety and quickly give up.
Here are a few methods you can use to establish a better way of approaching your child with anxiety:
1. Don’t Help to Get Rid of Anxiety
You would never want to see your child unhappy or uncomfortable and would like to do everything in your power to help them. But the problem won’t be solved just by your intervention and involvement in their lives. That is NOT the solution. A lot of parents seem to assume that, now that we’re involved, the anxiety will just go away. It won’t like this.
Your involvement should help teach your child how to manage their anxiety. You should help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function with it as well as they can. If they work with anxiety and try to function, they will actually find it decreasing over time.
2. Don’t Shelter Them
Helping kid avoid what they fear is a sweet short term pill that will go bitter real fast. For example if they refuse to go to a social gathering and you give in to them, you’re just enabling their anxiety. In the long run, the child will use your sheltering as a coping mechanism. In an uncomfortable situation where they get upset or even start to cry, they will expect you to swoop in and take them away or take away the thing that makes them feel uncomfortable. The child can use your susceptibility to this as a manipulation tool and it isn’t their fault if they do. Let them deal with things that they actually have the capability to deal with.
3. Show Realistic Expectations
In the real world, your anxious child will probably face almost everything that gets them worked up. You can’t promise that they won’t stutter during their presentation, you can’t promise that they won’t fail on a test and you can’t even prevent these things from happening, because they inevitably will. What you can do is tell that it’s going to be okay and that they’re going to get out of it. You should tell them that they will be able to manage what they’ve gone through and if they continuously face their fears by managing them, the anxiety and fears will fade away. Just express confidence in their ability to do so. This will increase their confidence in you since you won’t ask them something they aren’t capable of doing.
4. Be Empathetic
You should understand that validating what they’re feeling and going through doesn’t always mean you agree with them. Sometimes, because of their anxious behavior and tendency, they might become unreasonable. For example, your child has to get a flu shot and doesn’t want to, do you just give in? No, that’s unreasonable. What you want to do is be empathetic and talk to them about what makes them afraid and help them understand it too. Encourage her to face her fears. What you want to enforce to them is that you understand why they’re scared, and that it’s okay to be scared and that you are there for them to help them get through it.
Keep your questions as open as they can be too. Asking leading questions will make them think of things that aren’t in their control and that will make them anxious. Questions like “Are you worried about the big test?” and then answering the question yourself with “Well you shouldn’t be” can be replaced by “How are you feeling about the big test?”.
5. Don’t Make Them Afraid Where They Think They Should Be
It may seem like a very tedious job, but you really have to be careful with your tone and the way you speak may reinforce their anxiety and fears. A traumatic experience should obviously be avoided but once it happens, you shouldn’t shelter your child away. For example, you child might have a bad experience with a dog. The next time they see a dog, you shouldn’t unintentionally send a message to them by doing something that will make them think that they should be afraid.
6. Appreciate Their Effort
Use your words to show that you appreciate the work and effort they’re putting in to keep their anxiety in control. Show them that they’ve made progress by tolerating their anxiety to get a job done. The progress they’ve made will encourage them to engage in life more and have their anxiety in the back burner, or to have it run it’s own course. The anxiety can even disappear as your child goes on to deal with the things they stress them out as well. It might not disappear but might dissipate..
7. Pull The Bandage off Fast
If you’re going in for a stressful situation where it’s something you can avoid and you have to go through no matter what, like an exam, it’s best to reduce the time leading up to it. The time before a stressful event is perhaps the hardest time. You get killed in the anticipation. So a good way to reduce anxiety is to reduce the time before events like this. For the exam, go the examination a little earlier, if you’re planning to go to the doctors, just go without discussing what needs to happen and what doesn’t.
8. Don’t Talk About Stressful Events Right After They Happen
If your child has come out of an exam and you think they did bad or something gives you the indication that they might be upset, the worst thing you can do it ask about. “What do you think you’ll get?” For a lot of anxious kids, getting through a stressful event is the prize. Some might not care what happens as the outcome but care about just getting through. So asking about this will stress them out because a lot of the times, they themselves don’t know.
With anxiety, even if you’ve done the right thing, you will for sure doubt yourself for doing it. You will think you’ve done something wrong because you can’t be smart enough to know what is right. That’s what anxiety is for a lot of people all of the time, constant self -doubt.
9. Pre-plan Where You Can
Say a valid fear your child has comes true. How would you handle this situation? How would they? A child who is afraid of being alone and being separated from their parents. Well what if something happens that leads you two being separated for while? Even for a short while? Say your child is at school and you haven’t arrived on time to pick them up. Talk about situations like these with them too. “What would you do If I was late to pick you up?” “I would go inside and talk to some teacher or principal” “What would the teacher or principal do?” “They would call you or wait with me”
A simple talk or plan like this can ease them out because things to an extent aren’t in doubt and are sure to happen.