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Child Anxiety

Child Anxiety is an uncomfortable inner feeling of of fear or imminent disaster. What are the symptoms and risks? Teach your child how to overcome his anxiety by relaxation.

Children commonly display 2 forms of anxiety : Separation Anxiety and Anxiety due to Stress. Most of us experience some temporary degree of anxiety in our lives. It would be quite impossible to lead stress-free lives. Anxiety is a normal human reaction to stress and being anxious over appropriate things can make your child more responsible, caring people.

It is when your child experiences constant anxiety to the extent that it is abnormal and interferes with his life, even leading to panic attacks, that we as parents have to step in and help your child.

Watch this enlightening Ted.com video by David Anderson, Neurobiologist. Through his lab at the California Institute of Technology, David Anderson seeks to find the neural underpinnings of emotions like fear, anxiety and anger.

Symptoms of Child Anxiety

The symptoms may vary from feeling tense and tired to panic attacks and include :

  • tiredness or fatigue
  • dry mouth, difficulty swallowing
  • apprehension, 'something awful will happen'
  • sleep disturbances and nightmares
  • irritability
  • rapid heart rate and breathing
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • diarrhoea
  • flare-up of an illness (eg asthma)

Risks of Anxiety

Most parents will notice when their child is overwrought and quickly reassure their child by providing the love and comfort that they need to feel secure.

Talking and explaining to your child about a situation that they do not understand or are unable to handle can make them feel a lot better.

In Singapore, many children are seeing psychiatrists to treat their anxiety due to the stress they are feeling from school. I have always felt that adequately preparing your child ahead of time for their school work, enables them to enjoy their school life much more.

Unrealistic parental expectations and pressure is probably a main cause of stress to the child. I came across a child who couldn't sleep at night, constantly waking up from nightmares in which he dreamt that he hadn't completed his homework. He was a perfectionist and had been putting a lot of pressure on himself to do well in school.

Children need a physical outlet to express themselves, that is why exercise is extremely important for them. The endorphins that are released when they exercise can help to relieve some of the anxiety and stress they experience. Some kids even grind their teeth at night which is a sign of anxiety (or in my family's case just heredity - we are a family of teeth-grinders).

One other point is that as pregnant mothers, we should try our best to moderate our own stress. I have noticed that anxious mothers have fussy, anxious kids.

Separation Anxiety in kids is pretty common. If you have a child who cries copiously when you are leaving him, you will know how it feels. You feel awful that you are going to be away from him, especially if you are leaving him at the daycare. But guess what? For most cases, if you called back 5 minutes later to check on your little darling, you will find that he is already playing happily and forgotten about you. Out of sight, out of mind!

I was quite distraught when I started my first child at daycare. She would cry hysterically and hang on to me like a koala bear. I was torn and almost withdrew her from the kindergarten, until I discovered that the tears were just for my 'benefit'. At that moment of separation, I guess they really feel they couldn't live without you. But after you leave, they are distracted by the activities and soon forget that they miss you. So if you are at this stage now, be strong, it will soon be over and they will grow to love going to kindergarten.

Relaxation

Teach your child how to relax his mind and body. If you know how to meditate, that is even better. Help your child to learn how to express his fears, and not bottle everything up.

Show your child by example that they should lead a balanced life. Life is a marathon, they are only at the beginning. If they aren't able to overcome challenges and conflicts now, they will have a hard time ahead. Teach your child how to be happy and have a positive outlook in life.

My husband teaches my elder daughter how to meditate to calm herself. She is a very intense and pessimistic person, so we try to moderate her temperament. Here are some tips on meditation :

  • Let your child sit in a quiet place with his eyes closed, while remaining alert and awake. It is quite difficult for kids to remain still for too long, so you can start with 5 minutes and extend the length of time from there, as appropriate. Just tell them to keep still, they can think of anything they want. Tell them they can move only when the time is up and you say so.
  • Ask them to pay attention to their breathing. Breathe out with their mouth and breathe in with their nose. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply.
  • Use this 'quiet time' to help your child let go of his tension, this will reduce the stresses in his mind and body. He will feel refreshed after the 5 minutes and will be just raring to go...

Return from Child Anxiety to Problems in Childhood

Return from Child Anxiety to Pregnancy Tips

Return from Child Anxiety to Raising a Happy Child

Return from Child Anxiety to 100 Ways to Praise your child

Return from Child Anxiety to Good Parenting

Return from Child Anxiety to Fathers for Life

Return from Child Anxiety to Sports for Kids

Return from Child Anxiety to Kids Play

Return from Child Anxiety to Early Childhood

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