Following the coronavirus lockdown, many children may be left feeling unsettled and nervous with day-to-day life moving forward. working from home,
With schools having only just returned and many parents still working from home, everyday life has changed for millions of people, and children are inevitably aware that there is something unusual going on. Whether your child is experiencing anxiety for the first time or has expressed anxiousness before, it can be hard to know how to help. Here, baby and children’s retailer, Kiddies Kingdom, outlines five ways to help parents identify and ease child anxiety during this period.
Anxiety in children is often triggered by a fear of a specific thing, such as failing a school test, performing in an assembly or falling over ice skating. Identifying what activates the feeling of anxiety is key to helping them overcome it.
Although avoiding the things they’re afraid of will alleviate anxiety in the short term, it won’t help break the cycle in the long term. As opposed to removing stressful triggers, help them to tolerate them by conveying positive, but realistic, expectations.
Introduce coping mechanisms
If anxiety is not something you’ve experienced yourself, it may be hard to explain how to manage it to your child. Take them through relaxation methods like breathing exercises, mindfulness and yoga, as an escapism for when they feel distressed. Taking deep, slow breaths during peak times of stress often alleviates symptoms immediately and will allow the body time to calm down. Identify a dedicated space in the house that they can go to relax when they feel distressed. If this is a playroom or bedroom, incorporate this into the layout, décor and nursery furniture of the room by introducing tranquil tones and comfortable seating.
Children are perceptive and will pick up on your reactions and the way you handle certain situations. Try to remain calm during times of uncertainty and stress, reassuring them that whilst something is scary or doesn’t feel nice, everything will be fine. Try not to add to their anxiety by shielding them from unnecessary information that you know will scare them.
Be empathetic to how they are feeling without empowering negative thoughts by reassuring them that it’s normal to feel this way. Play on any instances you yourself have felt anxious, helping them to understand they are not alone.
Speaking openly and honestly as a family, means children are less likely to hold in any fears and emotions that may be causing them to distress. Introduce a worry box initiative whereby family members can write down anything that’s concerning them, and you discuss ways to overcome this together. This demonstrates that it’s normal to worry and encourages communication.
Keep them connected
Feeling isolated and alone may be a contributing factor to your child’s anxiety. During periods of uncertainty where children are unable to physically see their friends, encourage them to stay connected virtually. Help them access social media platforms safely and appropriately, ensuring security settings are configured in line with the correct age group.
As well as providing a way to chat, tablets and similar devices can be a great source of education and entertainment for children whilst at home. Apps such as BBC Bitesize, Duolingo and Classdojo can provide fun alternatives to help them learn outside of the classroom. By maintaining a healthy routine, it may help keep children motivated and avoid wobbles of anxiety.