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Tips to overcome anxiety in kids

7 December 2021

Anxiety! Just as adults’ children experience anxiety as well. It is a part of growing up, going through changes, dealing with challenges and getting out of our comfort zones. However, as adults we may be able to identify and deal with them whereas children may have more difficulty to recognise What is anxiety?
To put it in simple terms “Anxiety means feeling worried, nervous or fearful”. Kids feel anxious often, the reasons could be different for each one. Some may fear going to school, some fear being anxious with animals, and some feel worried about losing their parents. The pandemic itself has made children more anxious about the unpredictability of the situation,
First and foremost, it is our responsibility to acknowledge their fears. Instead of shunning them away by saying your worries are irrelevant and there are better things to ponder on. It would be helpful to say, “I acknowledge that you are scared about not meeting your friends. Please speak more about it”. Don’t belittle their feelings. The next question is how can we help our children as they are passing through this delicate phase. We don’t want them to feel “inadequate” about themselves. We want to equip them so they can cope with it better.

Eat, sleep and exercise: Lack of basic vitamins such as B12 and D3 are seen to be a huge cause of anxiety in children. Children need to get nutritious food which is rich in vitamins and minerals. They must eat fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains well. Avoid sugar and caffeine as it may do more harm to them. Sleep is the second most important component to development. Adequate sleep is essential. Thirdly is exercise. Exercise improves the chemical functioning of the brain and sends oxygen to every cell in the body so your brain and body can operate at their best.

Be the “yogi”: We often underestimate the importance of relaxation techniques. However, there is enough research which suggests that using relaxation techniques calms the mind and the body. In a state of anxiety, breathing helps children as well as adults to feel calm. Some simple relaxation techniques could be taking deep breaths while trying to focus on the breathing. Yoga for children is a great way to achieve mental and physical stability. Other techniques which make children feel calm are mindfulness meditation, drawing, colouring and playing with clay.

Use imagery: Imagining something beautiful calms us, right? Similarly, encouraging your child to imagine a beautiful scene or whatever they like can serve the purpose. They can imagine simple moments like hanging out with their friends, going to a picnic with their classmates, going to beaches with family etc.

Positive self- talk: Yes, the situation is worse. Nothing seems to be in place. Still, it is essential to engage in a positive self. Of course, not unrealistic ones. Some examples of positive affirmations could be “I am improving every day”. “Every day, I am becoming the best version of myself”. “I may feel anxious but I can try to do it”.

Help them connect: Children like interaction. It helps their emotional and social growth. Create channels of connections for them which helps them feel good. It could be grandparents, uncle aunts, family friends and their friends. It helps them to feel secure and makes them feel confident.

Spend time with them: Time is the most important commodity we can give children. They will remember the time you spend with them more than the toy you bought them. Balance your busy schedule. Plan some fun activities for your child. Simple games like chess, snakes and ladder, LUDO can help you connect with your child. This connection will help your child open up and share their feelings with you.

Monkey see, Monkey do: Our children learn by observing us. So, if we are very fearful and anxious children are likely to pick them up. Show them that even if you are anxious you work on dealing with it. Yes, it is difficult but you work around it.
Anxiety manifests in different ways. At any point if you feel that the anxiety your child is going through is interfering with their day to day functioning. It is essential to seek professional guidance for the same. Help your child recognise their triggers and help them develop coping mechanisms around it to nurture their emotional growth. Some amount of anxiety is good as it pushes us to do better but too much of it can get in the way of our peace of mind.

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