Pay attention to anxiety in your child
Lilia Mucka and Erin M. Sadler of licensed clinical psychologists in the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health at Children's National share tips to help kids manage stress and anxiety.
Kids may show anxiety in lots of different ways including with their body, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You may notice the following warning signs:
- Changes in breathing or heart rate, shaking, crying, headaches
- Increased worry thoughts
- Changes in mood with increased:
Fear or panic
Frustration or irritability
- Increased behavior problems
- Decreased attention and focus
- Trouble sleeping alone
- Social worries around negative judgment
- Turning off camera for video meetings
- School refusal
Practice activities to help kids manage stress and anxiety:
Take care of basic needs.
Connect with peers and family members.
Help your child build a life filled with joyful moments by encouraging play, hobbies and fun.
Deep belly breathing. Breathe in through the nose, filling the belly like it’s a balloon. Breathe out through the mouth, letting your belly deflate. Repeat 3-5 times.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Pretend you’re making lemonade and you have two big lemons in your hands. Squeeze tight, tight, tight for a few moments and then release! Repeat 3 times.
Mindfulness. Be present in this moment! Do an activity and give it all your attention like eating a snack or listening to a favorite song.
Exposures. A natural urge when we feel nervous is to run away and avoid things that make us uncomfortable. Encourage your child to face their fears by planning for bravery missions that allow them to face their worry and learn that it is okay to feel fear. For example, if your child is afraid to play by themselves, set up a list of challenge tasks from least to most difficult so they can climb the ladder to achieve their goal.
(Content Courtesy: https://riseandshine.childrensnational.org/helping-kids-manage-stress-and-anxiety/)