Ask an Expert - What anxiety reducing techniques can I use with my young child?
Thank you for your question! One of the first things we recommend is to try to help your child relax. An agitated or panicked child will not be able to respond to anything you are saying or doing because their
body is taking over. Relaxation techniques such a deep belly breathing can help your child to calm down.
Another really important step in helping your child with their anxiety is to validate their feelings. Although their worries and fears might seem ridiculous, it is crucial that your child feels heard and acknowledged.
Whatever worry or fear your child has, you can help them face it by gently encouraging them to do the things they are afraid of. Our gut reaction is to comfort and protect an anxious child, but it is more helpful to explain the importance of facing their fears. The more you encourage avoiding certain things, your child implicitly learns that there is a reason to be anxious or afraid if they are not doing certain things. It is important that the child learns that certain things in life may be difficult or could be scary, but we can be brave and can do them.
If you feel overwhelmed with your child’s anxiety, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. Therapists trained in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you and your child come up with a plan and behavioural exercises to face their fears.