Hi I’m Dr. Kathryn Rossbach, Clinical Psychologist at Children’s Therapy Works
I hope you find this information both informative and helpful
Managing Your Child’s Anxiety
It seems that anxiety is becoming more common every day and occurring in younger and younger children. Anxiety can happen for many reasons. Your child may be anxious about going to new places, attending school, going to the doctor, separating from you, or become anxious about a small change in their schedule. Additionally, anxiety can come in different forms- your child may tantrum, shut down, dwell on the same topic, have difficulty sleeping, or lose their appetite. Here are a few tips to help alleviate some of the anxiety that your child may experience:
-Tell them ahead of time if there will be a change to their routine (if your child is incredibly anxious with change, you can tell them fairly close to the time of change so that they don’t worry about it all day)
-Use social stories to prep for really big events (click here to read more about social stories: http://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/)
-Speak positively about new experiences- “you’re going to have so much fun at ….”
-Acknowledge your child’s anxiety, but let them know that they will be okay (and don’t empower their anxiety) “I know you are worried about…but we will be there to pick you up when you finish, and you’re going to be fine.” The message you want to send is that you know they are anxious, it is okay they are anxious, and you will be there for them as they get through the anxiety.
-Express positive, but realistic expectations. For example, you can’t predict whether your child will have fun at a new place or pass a spelling test, but you can let them know that they will get through it and their anxiety will lessen over time when faced with these fears
-If you feel that your child is getting worse over time rather than better, it is okay to seek out the help of a professional
-Talk through your child’s anxiety and fears- what would happen if their “worst case scenario” came true? For example, ‘what if your mom/dad didn’t show up when soccer practice was over?’ Talking through these situations may calm your child’s anxiety when they realize that in the end, everything is really okay ‘my coach could wait with me; we would call mom/dad; my neighbor would take me home, etc.’
-Try to model healthy ways to cope. In reality, all of us experience anxiety at some point or another- we’re late for an appointment, things don’t go how we thought they would go, or we’re mentally overloaded… instead of complaining to friends on the phone or talking about how you can’t handle it, try and show your kids that you have the strategies. Talk out loud about how you will solve the problem, show them how to breathe through tough times, or talk to them about your favorite way to relieve stress (exercising, time with family/pets, cooking, yoga, knitting, art, etc.).