Anxiety Disorder in Children
Anxiety Disorder is the most prevalent mental health disorder among the children and adolescents in today’s world. It is the mental health disorder in which people feel excessive worry, anxiety, tension and irrational fear in such a way that it severely affect the day-to-day activities of their life. Not only the adults but also a good number of children and adolescents are suffering from anxiety and depression. According to the Mental Health Report published by WHO in 2020, Anxiety Disorders are moat prevalent in children and adolescents. It is estimated that 3.6 percent of (10-14) years old’s and 4.6 percent (15-19) year old’s experience Anxiety disorder.
Know Signs and Symptoms to Deal Anxiety Disorder in children
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The majority of the children and adolescents who are suffering from Anxiety Disorder do not get help and support from their parents, teachers or other elders because it is beyond the imagination and thinking of adults that children may be suffering from anxiety and tension. But according the Mental Health Report of WHO( World Health Organization) in 2022-worldwide 10 percent of children and adolescents experience a mental disorder. So, now it is very important for the parents and others to know the common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder to manage the anxiety disorder in children. The common sign and symptoms are-:
- Frequent Mood Swings
- Constantly Worrying with little things
- Having Negative Thoughts and Fear
- Frequent Anger, Emotional Outburst
- Difficulty in Sleeping and Eating
- Nightmares, sometimes bed wetting
- Many physical problems like Headache, Stomachache, Nausea etc.
- Feel extremely Nervous in little bit tough situation
There are so many signs and symptoms of Anxiety Disorder in children, only some major symptoms are shared here so that the parents, teachers, other family members can identify Anxiety Disorder in children and help them to manage it.
Coping Strategies to Manage Anxiety Disorder in Children
There are so many coping strategies to manage Anxiety Disorder in children like Meditation, Yoga, Exposure to the triggers in slow motion, Avoiding the triggers, Taking therapy from professionals like Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Psychotherapy etc. But the strategies which we can practice at any situation, any place are the most beneficial and we can teach those to our children and adolescents also so that they also can manage their Anxiety Disorder. So, some easy but useful coping strategies to manage anxiety disorder are-:
Teach them Some Relaxation Techniques
To manage Anxiety Disorder, we can teach our children some relaxation techniques like Muscle Relaxation Techniques, Breathing Techniques, Cool Water Therapy etc. Quick muscle relaxation techniques like sitting down and relax your whole body starting from your toes , lift the toes upward–hold and let go and continue this process for other muscles or Make a fist, squeeze the tension, slowly open your fist and let it go. Breathing Techniques are the easiest and most powerful to manage anxiety disorders-teach the child to take deep breaths for 5times- inhale for 5 times and also exhale for 5 times loudly, tell them to use their Belly to breathe in and breathe out.
Teach them 3-3-3 Rule to Manage Anxiety Disorder
It is really helpful and easy to teach strategy for the children to manage their Anxiety Disorder- teach your children that in any anxious situation they should try to see 3 things in their surroundings- try to hear 3 sounds and name them- try to move 3 parts of the body- finger, ankle or arms. Another type of 3-3-3 rule can also be used to manage anxiety disorder – try to name your 3 favorite food, 3 good words in3 praising yourself like Iam a Brave boy, I am too good, I can conquer all etc., 3 good things you feel in your surroundings like gentle breeze, movement of branch of a tree etc.
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Also teach them to Identify the Triggers and Avoid
It will be very beneficial for the children (especially for the younger ones) if you can teach them to identify the triggers and avoid them. Later, as they grow, we can help them io face their triggers of anxiety and win over them. For example, one child has the phobia of Darkness or phobia of height, here the parents will first identify the triggers and then will help their children to identify those triggers and avoid them. So, the children who are suffering from great heights can try to avoid activities related to heights.
Distract the Child’s Attention from the Trigger Points
This is the most beneficial strategy to manage the anxiety disorder in children. Whenever the children are in an anxious situation, we should try to distract their attention by taking them away from that place or starting to tell a story or discussing any event to them or just starting to play some games with them- it may be the ” Antakshari” or Hide and Seek or simply the throwing Ball. Later the parents can also teach their children to distract their attention from the anxious situation and be involved in any activity or work they like to do. To manage Anxiety Disorder in Children, I always advice my students to sing loudly if they feel too much anxiety in them.
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Outdoor Play is truly Beneficial to Reduce Anxiety Disorder in Children
It is the proved fact that the outdoor activities especially the outdoor play are truly beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety because it not only take away the attention of the children from the trigger points but also it helps in secretion of feel-good neurotransmitters from their brain “Endorphins” which helps to reduce their anxiety and stress level. So, the parents can teach their children to play badminton or cricket or football or any type of outdoor play if they feel too much anxiety and stress.
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Connect with Nature to Reduce Anxiety Disorder
It is the amazing strategy to reduce anxiety disorder in children- when a child is suffering from too much anxiety or panic attack, we can take him\her in an open place preferably in nearby field or park or may be in your rooftop garden and surely he\she will feel fresh and relaxed. To walk nearby a flowing river or over a green field by holding the hand of your child is really amazing to manage the anxiety disorder in children. Try to hear the chirping sound of the birds or explore the varieties of flower in a garden is just the awesome way to manage anxiety disorder in children.
Openly Talk with Children about Anxiety Disorder
The parents should always keep the doors of communication open with your children as open communication always helps to identify the triggers of anxiety and manage them. Try to know from your children that what creates discomfort to them- make then anxious and tensed. You can also share with them about your childhood experiences of anxiety disorders and how you learnt to manage these. This type of open communication will surely help them to share their difficulties and manage their anxiety disorders. You can also introduce them major signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder so that they can figure out their difficulties very easily.
Parents should also Learn to Manage their Anxiety.
Sometimes the parents are so worried, anxious and stressed about little things that they indirectly transmit the anxiety among their children. For example, if the mother of a child is too much worried and anxious about the Term-end examination of her child, then obviously that child will surely face anxiety and stress regarding her examination. It is proved by several research works that the children of anxious parents are more prone to anxiety disorder than those whose parents are cool and relaxed. So, Parents also learn to be calm and relaxed in difficult situation and modeling parents behavior, is the easiest way to manage anxiety disorder in children.
Also Encourage the Children to Face their Anxiety Disorders
To face the anxiety issues, to win over them is the best strategy to manage anxiety disorder in children. But, it is little bit tough and long process to follow. Here, the triggers of anxiety will be produced to the children in a very little scale or small amount and slowly slowly it will be upscaled to intense one. For example, if someone is facing anxiety to talk in social settings, he/she may be encouraged to recite a rhyme or tell a story first with family members, then gradually with friends or with relatives, then in classroom – in small functions etc. But be careful to give positive feedback to that child to boost up his\her confidence level.
In Extreme Cases Consult with a Psychiatrist or Therapist
In extreme cases we should immediately consult with a psychiatrist who can suggest different ways which are beneficial to manage anxiety disorder in children. The psychologist will surely find out the triggers of anxiety and the underlying causes behind those trigger points. He\she can use Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy etc. to help the children to manage anxiety disorder. But here Talk-Therapy is really effective to reduce the anxiety level of children.
Art- Therapy can be used to Manage Anxiety Disorder in Children
Art-therapy has an amazing effect to reduce anxiety disorders in children, especially the visual arts. Here, when the children start to play with colors, draw sketches- they always portray their own status of mind- their happiness, their joys, their sorrows, their fears and thus they can easily express themselves and their anxiety issues from that the parents, the teachers can find out the anxiety triggers of their children. The art- therapy also helps to distract the mind of the students from the anxious situations.
Anxiety Disorder in children is really a tough job to manage – most complicated work to do but we can manage it by a positive mindset, by establishing a strong bond with our children so that we can help them to figure out their anxiety issues and lead a stress-free life. According to me, the relaxation techniques like deep breathing, muscle relaxation are really useful to manage anxiety disorder in children. Similarly, outdoor play, spending time with nature and Art- Therapy have amazing effect to manage anxiety disorder in children. So, the parents of the children are requested to teach your children to identify their anxiety triggers and try to manage them with relaxation techniques, distracting the attention etc.
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