“…What if I’m dumb in school?
What if they’ve closed the swimming pool?…
…What if nobody likes me?
What if a bolt of lightning strikes me?…
…What if the bus is late?
What if my teeth don’t grow in straight?…
…Everything seems well, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!”
Shel Silverstein has so beautifully strung into a poem all kinds of anxieties a child has during his early years of development.
Children experience worry and nervousness, accompanied by panic attacks and/or compulsive behavior. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 1 in 8 children experience anxiety which can affect them negatively. 
Is My Kid Suffering From an Anxiety Disorder?
Sounds a big and heavy word huh?
My kid can’t have this!
Well, the irony is that, for certain and obvious reasons, kids don’t realize they are anxious, nor do their parents!
So, the first step to fighting anxiety is to identify it and face it boldly.
But, how to identify?
Following are some questions that can make your aware if your kid suffers from anxiety:
- Do strangers and new faces make your child uncomfortable?
- Do supernatural things frighten your kid?
- Does your child avoid being a part of social activities, social places and situations?
- Does your child hate appearing for tests and fears failing it?
- Does your child seem irritated and restless most of the times?
- Does your child worry excessively, to the extent of not paying attention anywhere else?
- Is your child not able to focus or concentrate well?
- Is your child afraid of the dark and unknown places?
If your answer to most or all of these questions is ‘Yes’, then this post is for you!
If not, even then you should continue reading to help kids in your vicinity, deal with this problem. After all, you are kind enough to do that, aren’t you?
Reasons Why Your Kid Might be Anxious
Children learn the most by watching and observing people around them. If the adults at home, in school or in the daycare are constantly anxious, panicked or hyper; then the kid tends to react and behave in the same manner.
Since a kid’s mind is impressionable, even a little amount of stress can afflict him. The worry could be about anything ranging from grades at school to asking mom for permission to go out trekking.
Emotionally disturbing events that happen in a child’s life, like loss or separation of parents, witnessing frequent fights between parents or moving to a new school or city, can also affect the child highly negatively.
Violence or physical abuse seen or experienced by the child in his early years can lead to an anxiety disorder in later stages of life.
How to Deal With It?
Fortunately, there are numerous effective and simple ways to deal with an anxious child. All you need to have is ‘patience’ as things never change overnight.
Here are some ways that can help you and your kid get through this tough phase of childhood:
1. Talk it out!
The best and the most effective way to deal is to have a casual chat with your child.
Try to know what he feels when a certain situation arises. This comes under mindfulness practice, where you become part of his worries while focusing on one feeling at a time and teach him how to face it with a peaceful, calm mindset.
Make him aware you’re with him to lessen the piled up burden. Tell the child how you dealt with a similar situation in your childhood days. In this way, the child will feel supported and cared for and shall come out to be more confident in situations of distress.
2. Support from school
School is a place where a child spends most of her time. Providing the child with a comfortable environment there can help control his woes.
Meetup her teachers and inform them about your child’s response to situations of crisis. Ask them to take special care of your child (without making it obvious) when in school.
3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Take the help of a therapist if you feel that things are going out of control. A therapist can target the problem systematically, by researching, reaching its roots and can give a sure shot plan that will help your child overcome uneasiness.
CBT is a modern day talking therapy that includes breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and other activities.
Try to divert or keep your child’s mind occupied by enrolling him in some art classes of his choice or by encouraging him to play outdoor games or a biweekly yoga class. Anything that takes his mind off the usual routine shall be a good diversion to reduce anxiety.
5. Correct sleeping habits
A good night’s sleep can help the child deal well with misgivings. Reduce your kid’s screen time and increase his sleep time and see the difference in the anxiety levels.
Take care that your child avoids having excess sugar, additives and caffeinated drinks. This is said to reduce the stress levels to a great extent. 
Medication will not show immediate results. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for effects to become visible. But, do not readily give your kid any medication (mainly antidepressants) without consulting a good pediatrician and a child psychology therapist.
Preventing anxiety from creeping in
More than treatment, anxiety in kids that should first hand be prevented. By making simple changes in your and your child’s day-to-day life, you can keep him protected from getting depressed unnecessarily. Such changes include:
- Praise your child whenever he/she finishes doing something that he/she is otherwise concerned about.
- Every day, ask your child to write down all the things or issues that bother him and keep dropping these into a ‘Worry-Solving-Box’. At the end of the week, go through each (if he allows, or else let him only do it) and tear off the ones that were not worth it. The parents should also do this exercise with each other to demonstrate him its effectiveness and pique his interest.
- Do not label your child as ‘shy’, ‘panicky’ or ‘irritable’; in front of others or even at home.
- Encourage your child to do things that perturb him and help him get over those feelings. Make sure it’s a gentle and motivating effort. How you handle his situation matters the most to your child.
- Teach and practice with your child breathing exercises and relaxation techniques (like meditation or guided imagery) to help relieve the stress.
- Observe what your child enjoys doing and repeat that activity frequently relax his spirit. E.g., going together for a swim, dining out, playing together etc.
Most importantly, let your child know that you are there at all times. Nothing can heal your child’s anxiety disorder as rapidly as your support and love can.
Also, always keep in mind that being anxious is a part of growing up and with help and care even your child will grow out of it one day for sure. As I said earlier, all you need to have is – Patience!
- Anxiety Grew Up With Me And I Never Knew
- Why Kids Should Be Introduced To Yoga – Interview With Doreen Foxwell
- Mindfulness For Kids – Is It A Good Idea?
References  Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Facts and Statistics. ^Back to Top^  Donovan, C., & Spence, S. (2000). Prevention of childhood anxiety disorders Clinical Psychology Review, 20 (4), 509-531 DOI: 10.1016/S0272-7358(99)00040-9. ^Back to Top^
Last Updated: June 28th, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Aug 28th, 2014