Health / 13 May 2020 / by Holly Hudson
Five ways to ease a child’s worries and fears
It’s completely normal for children and adults to feel anxious or worried during a period of change. With many of us keeping safe at home, which has had an effect on our daily lives, we are experiencing a period of uncertainty. This feeling of change may be adding to previous fears or worries we were going through.
No two people are the same, and the same goes for children, so the best way to cope with fears and worries is to build a ‘toolbox’ of coping skills and mechanisms. While one technique may work for one child, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for another. In order to build up your ‘toolbox’, there will be some trial and error involved but hopefully, you’ll be able to find something that works. Try some of our techniques to see if it helps your child cope with their worries and fears.
Write It Down…Tear It Up
Children need time and space to express their feelings. However, they should also learn how to express these thoughts and feelings on their own. This can help them in situations such as school trips, sleepovers or even going on a walk where they may be feeling anxious. Writing down any worries or fears is a great way to express any negative emotions. Afterwards, they can tear it up and throw them away. By getting them to write their feelings down and then tear it up, it enables children to symbolically throw away their fears at that moment. This gives them a sense of control over their fears and worries and eventually allows them to manage the situation.
Get Their Body Moving
By doing just half an hour’s exercise a day, you can massively reduce the body’s response to stress and anxiety. A popular exercise at the moment is children’s yoga. Children can experience uplifting effects that last throughout the day by just doing a small amount in the morning. Another great thing to do at the moment is to go for a nature walk, or just a stroll through the park or neighbourhood. This helps children reconnect with the world around them, which brings a sense of calmness.
Show Them You Understand
It is important to talk to your children about what is going on in their life. By showing an interest in your child’s worries, it shows them that you care and helps them to feel supported and understood. Let your child know that they can come to you when they need help. They may look to you for answers, but you don’t need to know the correct answers. Let them know that it is ok to feel the way that they are feeling, and just by talking through their problems, will help them to feel calmer. If you do this enough times, then it should become normalised within your family to discuss feelings.
A lot of the time when children are worried, all they really need is some comfort and reassurance. Whether this is in the form of a heartfelt conversation or a hug, children need to know that whatever happens, someone will always be there to look out for them. Many children even look up to adults to indicate to them how to move on from worry or fear and help them to let go. A number of people underestimate the power behind the human touch. By physically touching someone a feel-good hormone called oxytocin is released, which reduces the amount of cortisol in the body; a stress hormone. Often a long hug can help to comfort a worried child and restore a sense of calm inside. After your child has calmed down, you could also explain to them that by giving yourself a hug or even holding your own hand, can also help to control any feelings of anxiety too.
Rewarding and praising a child’s behaviour is one of the most effective ways of influencing them. Just by simply giving rewards or showing praise can reinforce a child’s way of behaving and can mean that they will continue to act the same way because of this. This is a great way of highlighting how well they have acted towards something that may have been an issue in the past.