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Overcoming Anxiety in Kids: Strategies for Helping Your Child Cope with Fears

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

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Anxiety can be a normal part of childhood development, as it helps kids learn to cope with stress and new situations. However, when anxiety becomes too severe or lasts too long, it can have a negative impact on a child’s physical, emotional, and mental health. If you’re concerned that your child may be struggling with anxiety, it’s important to know the causes, signs, and strategies for helping kids cope with anxiety.

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What Causes Anxiety in Kids

Anxiety in children can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, life experiences, and even the environment. Genetics can play an important role in a child’s likelihood of developing anxiety, as some children may be more prone to anxious feelings than others. Life experiences, such as a traumatic event or a difficult transition, can also lead to anxiety in children. And the environment can play a role as well, as children who grow up in a household with high levels of stress or conflict are more likely to experience anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Kids

It can be difficult to identify anxiety in young children, as they may not always be able to express their feelings. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that can indicate that a child is struggling with anxiety, including:

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and difficulty sleeping

  • Avoidance of certain activities or social situations

  • Trouble concentrating or focusing

  • Constant worrying or fretting

  • Frequent tantrums or outbursts

If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to try to identify the possible contributors, and to take helpful action steps.

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Strategies for Helping Kids Cope with Anxiety

There are a variety of strategies that can help children cope with anxiety, and here are some that can be extremely useful to help kids manage their anxiety in a healthy, helpful way.

Parenting Strategies for Reducing Anxiety in Kids

As a parent, you play an important role in helping your child manage their anxiety. You can set boundaries and provide structure, which can help your child feel more secure. You can also create a safe and supportive environment by communicating openly with your child, praising them for their efforts, and encouraging them to try new things.

Promoting Positive Self-Talk for Kids

Positive self-talk is an important part of helping kids cope with anxiety. Encourage your child to talk to themselves in a positive way, such as using “I can do this” or “I will be okay” statements. You can also help them to identify and challenge their anxious thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.

Building Self-Esteem to Reduce Anxiety in Kids

Low self-esteem can be a major cause of anxiety in children. To help your child build their self-esteem, focus on praising their efforts and encouraging them to try new things. Help them to identify their strengths and celebrate their successes, no matter how small.

Creating an Anxiety-Reducing Environment for Kids

Creating an anxiety-reducing environment can be a great way to help your child cope with anxiety. Make sure that your home is a safe and supportive space, free from stress and conflict. You can also practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and guided imagery with your child to help them stay calm.

Talk Therapy Strategies for Anxiety in Kids

Talk therapy can be a great way to help kids learn to express their feelings and work through their worries. Kids can identify their anxious thoughts and learn strategies for dealing with stressful situations, including practicing relaxation techniques.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that focuses on changing the way a person thinks and behaves. CBT tools help to challenge identified negative and anxious thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic ones. This can help kids to become more confident and better able to cope with anxiety-provoking situations.

If you’re concerned that your child may be struggling with anxiety, communicate openly with them to allow them to express their concerns, to validate their feelings, and to see if some changes in the schedule or environment may be helpful in reducing their anxiety.

If you feel that your child's anxiety is significantly impacting their mood, daily routine functioning, or overall health, don't hesitate to reach out to a child and family counselor for some helpful support, guidance, and useful tools to help manage your child's symptoms of anxiety.

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Foods can play a role in helping to manage anxiety for kids. Read our article about 'Good Mood Foods' here.

All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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