We are willing to wager that when you were a child, life was easier. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you know how different the world is today compared to how it was for you. Take the simplest of differences, for instance, cellphones. On the rare occasion that we were allowed cellphones, they’d either be bricks or flips—and if you owned one you were cool. Today, most kids not only have cellphones, but they have the newest and best version of it.
Differences like this seem, at first, to be unimportant. Kids may have phones but why would that cause any significant difference between the older generation and the new? There is growing support for surveys which ask the question “does access to information hurt children?” It’s hard to answer this question directly because it assumes it is a yes or no. In reality, access to information can both help and hurt your kids—that is why it needs to be consumed in a controlled manner. And for when your child begins to express unease, it’s time to consider your options for managing that anxiety.
Anxiety and Children
Anxiety in children can manifest in as many different forms as they can create. Some children run away, others may scream, shake, cling, have a tantrum, or even begin to make consistent attempts at being silly. This is because of their inability to understand why they are filled with anxiety or what the feeling even is outside of being uncomfortable. Anxiety can come from many sources, making the reasoning for the behavior hard to diagnosis for many parents. Here are a few proven ways to help manage your child’s anxiety, without even knowing the source:
- Help them to direct their breathing
- Give time every day to reassure them
- Help them to find coping behaviors
- Communicate with them in a way that they understand
- Acknowledge their fears and disarm them
- Avoid inserting your own opinions over theirs
- Be encouraging but never forceful
- Allow them time to understand and process their feelings
- Have them unplug and participate in one of your hobbies with you
Specific Types of Anxiety Can Have Specific Remedies
These are some of the best-known techniques for managing children’s anxiety, regardless of the source. But there are some other tips for helping children with a particular anxiety:
- Anxiety of the dentist—get them dentist related toys
- Anxiety of public speaking—have them practice in front of the family
- Anxiety of a particular person—listen to their reasoning
In most cases, children are able to tell you exactly what is bothering them, but not in all cases. If, for example, a child was terribly anxiety ridden over a snake, but they had never encountered one before, it could be difficult to deduce the cause of the anxiety in the middle of a zoo. This also happens with children and adult-strangers. Often times, kids can feel strong anxiety over an adult without ever having a good reason beyond their fear-response.
Children Mirror Our Reactions
This is where nature and nurture begin to get foggy for kids. Is it a learned fear of spiders or an innate fear which caused Billy to break a window because he saw a spider on it? Further, are they afraid of clowns because of their white makeup and red nose, or because of a societal fear based on Stephen King? These are important questions, but not questions that have answers currently. And luckily, we don’t need there to be answers in order to use these topics.
Children mirror our reactions. They see how we respond to pressures and anxiety and they learn how to deal with their own stress in the same manner. Even when they don’t have the vocabulary to describe what they are feeling in the moment. Outside of speaking with your child and learning about their fears, one of the best ways to help them manage their issues, is by letting them watch how you deal with yours. There’s an old adage which says that “children mirror their parents” and helping them figure out how to manage their stress is one of the best things you can do for your child.