Anxiety is a normal part of childhood. We all remember worrying about the first day of school each year, stressing out about a test, or clinging to mom rather than spending the night away from home at a friend’s house. This type of anxiety is like a phase that will come and go.
Some children might have more than just the typical phases of worry. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that one in eight children are living with anxiety. Children who develop an anxiety disorder usually do between the ages of 6-12, and when left untreated, it can follow them into adulthood.
Signs of Anxiety
Whether anxiety is temporary or a child is struggling with an anxiety disorder, it is important to understand the signs. This can alert parents to the fact that their child is feeling anxious or panicked, and allow them to help their children deal with the situation.
Signs to look for include:
- Excessive worry, about safety, health, potential dangers, school.
- Complaints of headache or stomach ache, with no physical reasons.
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Cries often
- Becomes angry with no reason
- Avoids participating in activities
- Afraid of making even small mistakes
- Becomes emotional or angry when separating from a loved one.
Helping Ease Anxiety
The most important thing to remember when dealing with a child who is worried or anxious is not to dismiss their feelings. Rather than telling them, “there’s nothing to worry about,” ask them to talk to you about their feelings. Show them you understand and that you can relate. Sometimes just being able to understand they’re not alone will help ease their feelings of anxiety.
It’s never too early to teach kids coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Just like adults, it’s good for kids to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals and exercise regularly in order to alleviate stress and anxiety. You can also practice deep breathing and mindfulness practices. And don’t forget the importance of play! Free, unstructured time outside or with their favorite toys is a good way to help ease anxiety in kids.
Providing a comfort item or transitional item is another way to help ease anxiety. Many kids do this on their own, keeping a special blanket or toy with them throughout the day as a tangible way to feel more secure. Comfort items can help reduce anxiety in the moment by providing a physical object to hold on to, to help divert the child’s attention away from what is causing the anxiety. Comfort items are also a way of training the brain to shift to other thoughts when anxiety flares.
At Comfort Companions, we’ve designed a line of products to specifically provide comfort for kids during times of anxiety. Whether it’s a child who is worried about spending the night with his grandmother or a girl who is nervous about the first day of school, our Comfort Companions are there to provide a safety net for stressful situations.