An anxious child is constrained and constantly under stress. The world around him seems dangerous and hostile to him, and therefore, even when communicating with friends and relatives, he can experience strong stress. All this has the most negative effect on the psychological state and development of the baby. If the problem is not solved in childhood, obsessive fears can take root in the child’s psyche, and it will be much more difficult to get rid of them later.
Common Causes of Anxiety in Children
Small children are always afraid of something. In the second year of life, many babies have a fear of pain (this often leads to fear of doctors, medical instruments), loneliness, and confined space. Children under 6-8 years old are often haunted by night fears (fear of the dark, monsters “living” under the beds). The child’s perception of the world changes as he grows up, and at the same time most childhood phobias disappear. But some unfounded fears may remain. When there are many of them, the baby has a persistent anxiety that haunts him constantly.
According to modern psychologists, anxiety in children may be associated with improperly built parent-child relationships. That is, parents, without knowing it, by their behavior and style of upbringing, provoke anxiety in children. These factors include:
- Adult inconsistency.
The family does not have a unified system of rules of behavior for the child: adults periodically change the requirements based on their mood (for example, yesterday the baby could eat in front of the TV, but today it is impossible, because the parents are not in the spirit), or the mother allows the baby to do what which dad does not allow. As a result, the kid simply does not understand how and in what situations to do the right thing, and is afraid to do something wrong.
- Separating parents.
Mom and Dad often go to visit, to the movies, for walks, but do not take the child with them. The child feels abandoned, offended, and eventually withdraws; he has no one to talk to about problems, fears, worries.
- Excessive requirements.
Parents want their baby to be independent beyond his years, to study better than anyone else in the class, to successfully study in several sections. The child is forced to strive to meet parental expectations, but this is too heavy a burden for the child’s psyche.
- Threats from parents.
Adults ask the child to carry out assignments, using phrases like: “If you don’t do it immediately, then I will whip you with a belt!”, “Now go and do it, don’t make me mad!”.
- Show of distrust in the baby.
Parents periodically check their child’s pockets for “prohibited items”, read his personal diary and (or) correspondence with friends, show distrust of words. A child growing up in such conditions all the time feels tension, becomes isolated, and he himself loses confidence in his loved ones.
- Active suppression.
One of the parents (or both) persistently dictates how to live, scolds the baby for any deviation from the “norm”. The child feels cornered, constantly preparing to hear disapproval.
- Family rivalry.
Parents raising several children sometimes forget that they need to give each baby equal care and attention. The oldest child most often remains in the “loser”. A young family member who feels deprived of parental attention is seized with jealousy; he fears that his parents have begun to love him less.
Anxiety can be passed on to a child from adults. If scandals often occur in the house or parents escalate the situation, frightening the child with possible difficulties in school, worrying too much about the future and financial situation of the family, the child ceases to feel the reliability of adults and feel safe.
Anxiety can arise as a result of severe stress, and also act as one of the manifestations of neurosis or other mental disorder. In such cases, parents should seek the help of a child psychologist or psychotherapist.
Signs of anxiety in a baby
An anxious child is easily upset and shy by nature. He is quiet and taciturn, always expecting trouble, afraid of public speaking and everything new. The kid has low self-esteem and feels insecure, and therefore begins to fuss when he is offered to play a new game, or when he finds himself in an unfamiliar company.
A child with anxiety may often have sleep problems, periodically noted: psychosomatic pain in the muscles and larynx, irritability, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, increased sweating (with normal physical health).
Anxiety can lead to negative consequences and significantly complicate the child’s life, so parents should devote all their efforts to overcome this painful condition.
Fighting Anxiety: Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Anxiety is inherent in children who are insecure. It is almost impossible to raise self-esteem quickly! This is a work that requires daily commitment Praise your baby often, emphasizing his strengths and even the smallest victories. It’s good if his peers and family friends know about the crumbs’ successes. It is important that the child has a hobby in which he can feel his talent. The main goal of a parent is to help him find this activity. Perhaps it is worth giving him to courses, to a circle, or to devote some time to diligent searches for his creative “niche”.
If the child is small, make a Flower of Achievements for him. Take whatman paper and arrange it in the form of a flower. In the center, paste a photo of the “hero”, and write his achievements on the petals. Best of all, if it is a description of specific actions and certain behavior (won in “Sea Battle”, helped my mother to clear the table, laced his shoes himself, etc.). You can make such flowers all the time, writing the achievements of the previous day into them.
For an insecure teenager, you can make a “board of honor”, which will collect all his certificates, awards, medals, good grades. Let the parents themselves decorate the stand with their own reviews. The “honor board” should be visible so that guests can see the child’s achievements and praise him for his successes.
Helping your baby cope with anxiety
Talk to your child more often and find out what worries him, what he is afraid of. Show him cartoons or feature films, where the characters are just as afraid of danger, but overcome their fears and achieve their goal. Explain that everyone is afraid, but that it is important to be able to deal with it.
Analyze your behavior as a parent. Perhaps you demand too much from the child, or his rhythm of life is too impetuous for him. Each person needs some time for loneliness and isolation, and therefore it is important that the child has his own, personal space. If there are no such conditions, but there is only a strict and not always fair parent, this pushes the baby into a frame, instilling insecurity and anxiety in his heart.
We remove internal stress
Teach your child relaxation breathing exercises to completely relax the body, deep abdominal breathing. Doing yoga or a massage before bed can help relieve tension and work out muscle tension . A simple “fall into the abyss” exercise (to do it, the baby will need to stand up straight, then release the fear and fall back so that the adult standing behind can catch it) will help the child not only relax, but also feel trust in his parent.
Praise the baby more often, hug and kiss. He should feel that close people love and appreciate him for what he is, regardless of the circumstances.
Helpful advice for parents
The child should receive parental support and protection, but it is important to make him understand that there is no need to hide from problems. Talk to your baby about unpleasant situations in life and tell him about different ways to get out of them. Help your child cope with fears. If the baby is afraid to talk to strangers – come up and talk together. If he shivers while standing in line at the store, ask him to pay on his own, but stay nearby.
Follow these guidelines to help your child overcome anxiety faster:
- Prepare your baby for important events in advance. You can even “rehearse” certain behaviors with your child, adhering to which he can be more confident under any circumstances.
- Emphasize that “every cloud has a silver lining.” Be positive!
- Teach your baby to adequately assess the result of his work, not to react too sharply to criticism.
- Avoid competitive activities for children (especially if the contests involve performing a series of actions that require a quick response).
- Do not ask too much of the child, do not press. Do not escalate the situation by scaring him with a lot of homework or poor academic performance after an illness.
- Instill confidence in your baby and your support. Tell him more often: “You are strong!”, “You can handle it!”, “I will always be there.”
If, despite your concerted efforts, your child is struggling to overcome anxiety, you may be missing something. In this case, it makes sense to seek advice from an experienced child psychologist.