Helping Your Toddler Relieve The Symptoms Of Anxiety When They Are Afraid Of Something
According to the Anxiety And Depression Association of America, one in eight children suffers from anxiety. If you have a young child of your own who has been displaying signs of anxiety and fear, you may wonder what steps you can take in alleviating their symptoms. Here are some steps you can take to help your child relieve some of the feelings they experience when they are afraid of something, helping them to live a happier life as a result.
Pinpoint Specific Triggers For The Anxious Feelings
Before you can help your child, you will need to know exactly what bothers them enough to cause the feelings of anxiety they have. Many anxiety disorders stem from a fear of a certain item, task, person, or scenario. If your child is not yet able to express themselves verbally, you will need to look for signals to determine what causes anxious feelings to occur.
Perhaps your child gets quiet and scared when they see a dog in the area. If they are given a specific food they don't care for, they may start pretending to be sick. Many younger children suffer from separation anxiety, which is the fear of being away from people they know. Other situations that cause anxiety at this age are strangers, loud sounds, or unfamiliar locations.
Consider Seeing A Counselor To Help With Coping Skills
If your child is not yet able to communicate verbally, you can still benefit from going to a counselor along with the child to learn some coping skills to help relieve some of the stress they are feeling. A counselor seasoned in children's anxiety problems, like those at Hey Sigmund, would use toys, drawing, play acting, and other toddler-friendly activities to help with stress reduction.
During a session, the counselor may incorporate something a child is afraid of into playtime, such as in a puppet show for example, to see how the child reacts to seeing this item or situation. Little by little, the child will see that this item or situation is harmless during puppet play, making it more likely they will accept it when encountering it in everyday situations. As the child grows, the counselor will be able to increase the communication lines verbally to help the child discuss their anxiety.
Reassure Your Child But Do Not Avoid Situations Where Triggers May Be Present
Your child looks to you for reassurance when something causes them anxiety. It is alright to reassure your child that they do not need to worry. Do not avoid situations where triggers may be present. This would cause the child more anxiety about the situation or item because they will not have exposure to it.
For example, if your child is scared of dogs, it may be helpful to have them look at pictures of dogs. Work your way up to having your child watch dogs on television. They may then be able to see dogs at a pet store where they are safely behind bars. Finally, introduce your child to one of your friend's docile dogs. These baby steps can help in relieving anxiety over something as they will have more exposure to it.