Therapeutic Ways to Support Your Child’s Anxiety

Having feelings of anxiety is part of life, beginning at birth with our first cry. As we grow, feelings of anxiety are experienced in the body as tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and the loss of control – all of these new sensations are heightened in children when they don’t know why it’s happening. Whether it’s an isolated incident or recurring event, anxiety brings with it a load of questions.

Even if your child is eventually diagnosed with anxiety, this diagnosis can’t bring relief if they don’t know what it means. In fact, the word “diagnosis” can lead them to believe something is wrong with them if not supported and properly educated.

It’s never too late to begin a journey of self-exploration and acceptance with your child. Do you feel overwhelmed after trying to help your child calm down? Would you like support with educating your child in the long term? Here are some tips to help you talk to your child about anxiety:

Create a Safe EnvironmentFind a quiet and private space where your child feels safe and comfortable to talk. Before you ask them questions, ensure they feel safe. Give them time to calm down and sit with them on their journey of navigating through the intensity of these emotions.
Explain Anxiety in Simple TermsUse age-appropriate language to help your child understand what anxiety is and how it can make them feel. Explain how the body reacts, giving life to the bodily feelings they may experience. Use examples and metaphors to help them visualize their emotions. This will not only educate them but giving words to their experience will validate them further. 
Normalize Anxiety Explain that anxiety is a common and normal emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Emphasize that there is nothing wrong with feeling anxious. It may even help to tell your child of times in your life you’ve experienced anxiety.
Teach Coping SkillsHelp your child put their feelings into words! Work with them to develop coping strategies that can help them manage their anxiety. Begin to teach them breathing exercises, engage in yoga or physical activity with them and teach them mindfulness. Encouraging them with agency over their own diagnosis is extremely important in their growth.
Find a TherapistIf your child’s anxiety is severe or interfering with their daily life, therapy is a great option. Whether in individual, family, group, or play therapy;  therapy will help connect your child to themselves, their families and their community.

We see families every day come through our doors with anxiety that can feel hopeless for the whole family. When they walk through those doors, however, the worries begin to dissipate as they’re seen and supported. Decade2Connect uses the EFFT (Emotion Focused Family Therapy) model, which focuses around connecting a family unit as a whole. We believe when one member of the family is hurting, they all are: on the other hand, when one member is thriving, they all can. And modeling your own response (not reaction) to your child’s feelings (and your own) is powerful parenting! As a parent, the greatest gift you can give your child is love and support. Connect with us today if your family is ready to grow and heal together.

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!