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  • Writer's pictureHannah's Hope


Ruth Kongaika wrote an article for titled "5 ways to help an anxious child" to provide parents of children with present anxiety with helpful tools to calm their child and hopefully, avoid any meltdowns or anxiety attacks. Children with autism can present with anxiety, especially in certain situations, so although this toolkit is not geared toward that population specifically, the tips may still be helpful. Anxious need special care and attention in order to become confident and progress both socially and academically. They manifest anxiety in a lot of different ways. They may cry and or throw tantrums or cling to their parents. In these situations, worry is a constant and these feelings can often cause headaches or stomaches. The first tip she lists to help with anxiety is to learn about anxiety. It's virtually impossible to eliminate anxiety altogether, but educating yourself and your child about it can be beneficial in a multitude of ways. Everyone experiences anxiety; it's our signal to threats and can help us reach our goals. When we begin to feel anxious, our heart beats faster to pump blood to our muscles in case we need to run away from a threat or danger. Without anxiety, we would not survive, we all need it and can benefit from it, as long as it doesn't overcome us. That is why it is important to accept the anxiety. When anxiety arises in your child, it's important not to shame them for the way they are feeling because that will only make it worse. Instead, you can acknowledge them and direct them to focus on problem-solving. Help them verbalize the size of their worry from 1-10 or even draw a picture of it; communication in these moments will be your savior. Prepare them to deal with their anxiety when it arises and be consistent to help them overcome future challenges. Try to teach coping skills so that your child can have skills that help them tolerate their anxiety and make it possible for them to gain confidence and manage their fears. Teach them deep and slow breathing techniques as well as encouraging positive self talk. You can also try things like role playing, visualizations, muscle relaxation or yoga; any solutions that will help your child overcome anxieties and help them deal with it. You also need to understand a child's individual needs. Each child is different so it is important that you respect and validate the child's feelings and allow them to tell you how you can best help and support them. It can be difficult to watch children suffer from worry and you may feel tempted to rush in and rescue them in moments of anxiety, but it is crucial to talk to them privately about the situation and then praise them publicly. Try not to embarrass them in front of others or put them on the spot as it might overwhelm them even more. Lastly, celebrate efforts at independence. Encourage your child to try new things in the hopes that it will distract them from their worries. Give them appropriate and effective praise when they make attempts to overcome their anxiety, this will help empower them to learn to mange their reactions and calm themselves. Create a calm home environment o make them feel safe and secure in case things don't go as planned. If they backslide at any point, continue to encourage them and support them the best way you know how. The most important takeaways from learning how to help your child deal with anxiety is that when all else seems to fail, be supportive and encouraging in every way and listen and acknowledge their feelings when they need to be heard. If you can manage that while working in some of those coping techniques, your child will be just fine.

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