Kids of all ages can be affected by situational anxiety. When facing new situations, or when they fear they’ll be separated from you, anxiety kicks in. Despite your best efforts to prepare your kid for a change in scenario, anxiety could still overcome them.
What does situational anxiety look like?
Although all kids differ, the most common symptoms and signs of situational anxiety include:
A drop in activity levels
Weakness in the legs
Regardless of what triggered your kid’s situational anxiety, there’s always a good way to deal with it and help them overcome the problem.
How to help kids overcome situational anxiety
Identify the symptoms
The first step in helping your kid lies in helping them understand the changes that happen in their minds and bodies during an anxiety attack. By addressing their behaviour, you’re helping them pay attention to their body’s cues of anxiety.
Normalize the idea
You need to help your kid understand that feeling a little anxious from time to time is perfectly normal. Teach them about how stress can make us all feel and act differently than we normally do. You can try telling them that you also don’t like talking to new people. That it makes you feel nervous and makes your hands go all sweaty. You kid needs to understand that there’s nothing wrong with feeling anxious or stressed.
Help them relax
Get down to your kid’s level and help them identify what’s making them feel this way. You can also try to alleviate those fears verbally, if at all possible. Let’s say your kid just got nervous about the idea of visiting the doctor. Talk to them and find out what their fears are about the situation. This will also give you an opportunity to give your kid the right info as to what they should expect from the situation. You can also try using some breathing exercises, guided imagery and just some physical touch to help calm them down as much as possible.
You, as the parent, are the biggest influence on your kid’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety. By giving your child the emotional tools he or she needs to identify situational anxiety and helping them relax, you’re building your kid’s resilience for future stress. Remember that this might require some practice and patience, but you will get there in the end.