How Parents can help an Anxious Child

The world is a legitimately scary place, especially if you’re still figuring out how it works. Life is hard for a baby, a toddler, a child. When everything is bigger than you and you don’t understand many of the things you’re bombarded with every day, it’s not hard to understand why someone might be afraid. Fortunately, there are some things that parents can do to help comfort their children and make things easier. 

Learn what triggers anxiety

In dealing with children, it’s usually best to ask. Never assume you know what’s bothering them because you know what would bother you. Children are people, with a notably unique way of viewing the world, so it’s best to find out what’s bothering them before trying to fix it. Once you find out what this is, limit the trigger as much as possible. If it’s something that can be avoided (i.e. bugs, bees, the dark, etc) simply avoid it. Your child may come to terms with it in time, they may not. Either way is okay. We are all people and we all have our things. 

Prepare for unavoidable triggers

Give your child time to emotionally prepare for things, if that’s what works best for them. Some children will worry extra and would prefer to be kept in the dark as long as possible. But if your child does better when they feel ready, make sure you give them the opportunity, even if it means something more troublesome for you to deal with. If you don’t tell your child, be sure, at least, that you are prepared to handle the problem. Bring something that child feels comforted by, a favorite toy, a special blanket, something like that. If your child is still nursing, remember that those breasts are good for comfort too, not just milk. Bring some sort of distraction as well, if possible. A game, a favored snack, something of that ilk. Make sure to prepare yourself as well. Be emotionally ready to deal with a clingy child, or a fussy child, or a fear induced tantrum. Your child needs you to get through these things, make sure you’re able to be there for them. 

Provide a safe space to talk

A main problem with anxiety is the long term implications. The constant worrying that accompanies life, as opposed to the intense fearful spells that break out when under stress. It’s the part that really affects a life. The ability to talk about these worries without judgement and with reassurance is crucial. Sometimes just labeling what’s wrong can be a huge help. Being able to say it without being laughed at can make a person feel more able to deal with it. 

Be there

This is one of the most important. Your child relies on you. For everything. Food, water, shelter, comfort, reassurance, contact, affection. In order to be independent, they must learn that they can depend on you. You need to be the home they can always run back to. Feeling that there is one totally safe place in the world makes the rest of it much easier to handle. Especially if that place is always readily available. When you know your child is going to be stressed, make sure you’re there with them. If you’re introducing them to anything new, make sure you’re there. A parents touch and presence can make the hugest difference in the world. 

Anxiety is part of life, everyone has a little, but there are things we can do to help ease the discomfort.