Monday, November 16, 2009

Do you Know, is Your Child Anxious?

One of the main indicators of how well a child is adapting or coping with their lives is the amount of stress of anxiety they carry with them. Everyone gets anxious. We all have a flight or fight response. It is natural. It is what saves us from being eaten by bears, although our bears usually take the form of bullies, big dogs and an oncoming car.
Children experience this too. They just are not very good at handling it yet. They don't have what we adults like to call coping skills. Children tend to show they are anxious by acting out. They can get very irritable, very worrisome and have nightmares. They may freeze, feel unable to move or speak for a time. They have stomach aches, headaches, and some even have problems with balance and gait or walking. Some kids get so anxious they lash out at others when they have no other outlet for their emotions.
If your child is experiencing a lot of these symptoms, they may be enduring a huge amount of stress and anxiety. Finding out what the cause is is not as important as giving the child a way to help make some of the anxiousness go away even in only for a short time. Once a child feels they do have control, even for a brief moment, they can continue to feel success and will try to handle more of the negative feelings. Once they have a period of de-stress in which to be, then you can try to find the cause of the stress.
It may be something simple like tests.Many children have test anxiety. It may be something a little more fearsome like a bully at school or in their neighborhood. Dealing with stress is a common theme in a very complicated society, so we all need to learn better more effective ways to deal.
For a child, they first have to be given a suggestion to help them feel okay again. Breathing exercises like blowing bubbles is wonderful. This actually exercises the power of breathe and offers a visual of the anxiety lifting for the child and floating away. Another suggestion is a tactile activity like playing with clay or dough. Children who learn to cook, or make things do very well with handling stress. Gardening is another one that helps. Tending to a small seed and watching it grow into a plant offers so much chance of success and accomplishment. This can provide the child a sense of self worth. Any physical activity that is non competitive is great. Fresh air, sunshine, walking and talking and experiencing things together are great healers. Collecting rocks and sea shells is beautiful, and offers a chance to share wonders thruogh their eyes.
Try to see things through your child's eyes for a fresh insight into their world. They haven't learned to take the magic and beauty that surrounds us so much for granted as adults have. You may notice none of these things involve therapy or a lot of cash. They all involve connection for you and your child. They involve spending time and talking to each other. This is the key to helping a child cope with anxiety. If these simply things don't seem to work, or if they work for a while, then fail. They you can turn to a professional. They will always be there if you need them, but this may be one you can impact with a simple walk on the beach and a conversation by a campfire. So relax, you can't help teach a child to handle stress if you can't do it yourself.

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