5 ways to help your child with anxiety
Recognizing anxiety and helping your child cope
Childhood is often thought of as a carefree time without worries. However, it's important to know that children can experience anxiety, just like adults. The good news is you can help your child better handle anxiety.
In this video, Nicholas J. Westers, Psy.D., ABPP, clinical psychologist at Children's Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern, shares five ways you can help your child with anxiety.
How to help your child with anxiety
- Learn to recognize when your child is feeling anxious. It's easy to see that your child is feeling anxious when they are clearly panicking. But sometimes, anxiety is not as obvious. If your child shows signs of irritability, anger and oppositional behaviors (not wanting to do anything you ask), it may be a sign of anxiety.
- Remind your child that anxiety is normal. Letting your child know that it's normal to have some anxiety is the first step in helping them cope. You can say, "I sense that you're feeling anxious, and that's okay."
- Remain calm. Your child will react to your actions, so it's important to remain calm. Our children feed off our own anxieties, so if we portray that, it can make them more anxious. We want to make sure they can look to us as a safe place – someone who is consistent and calm.
- Teach relaxation skills. Teach your child how to breathe deeply when they feel anxious. With them, take a deep breath, hold it while you count to eight and then let it go slowly. You can also teach them to picture a peaceful place where they felt calm, such as a favorite family vacation spot or a cozy corner of their room.
- Speak to a professional if anxiety continues. If your child continues to have a lot of anxiety, or if anxiety interferes with their day-to-day routines and activities, talk with their health care provider about other ways to help your child.
The team at Children's Health can help children and teens manage feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. Learn more about programs we offer to support mental, emotional and behavioral health.
You can also access the emotional support you need from the comfort of your home. With Virtual Visit Behavioral Health, you can speak to a board-certified psychiatrist or licensed therapist using video chat. Learn more about Virtual Visit Behavioral Health.