It is very important to have the same expectations of your anxious child that you would of another child. The pace will need to be slower and there is a process involved in getting to this end goal. You can help your child break down big tasks into smaller steps that your child can accomplish. An example would be fear of an elevator. The first step would be to look at the elevator from a distance. The next step would be to get closer. The next step would be to press the button for the elevator to go up. Continue these baby steps until one can ride up and down on the elevator.
1. Stop reassuring your child.
It is really hard for your child to think clearly, use logic, or even remember how to complete tasks. Instead pause and take some deep breaths with your child. Deep breathing can help reverse the nervous system response. Empathize that anxiety is scary. Yur child needs to know you understand. Then evaluate; once your child is calm, it's time to look at possible solutions.
2. Discuss why worrying is good.
Worry is a protective method. It rings an alarm in our body and helps us survive danger. Worry is perfectly normal and everyone experiences it from time to time.
3. Allow your child to worry.
Telling your children not to worry won't prevent them from doing so. Create a time every day called "Worry Time." This is when a child talks to you and/or writes down all his/her worries. Decorate a Worry Box. For ten to fifteen minutes write all the worries down. Depending on the child's age, you may need to write them. Another idea would be to have the child draw a picture(s) of the worries. At the end of the time period, place them in the Worry Box and say good-bye to the worries for the day.
4. Avoid avoiding everything that causes anxiety.
In the long run, avoidance makes anxiety worse. Break it down into steps, (remember the elevator). Go through each step until the exposure becomes too easy. This is when you know it is time to move to the next step.
5. Help them develop and work through a checklist.
What do paramedics do when they arrive on an emergency scene? They refer to their check lists. In an emergency it is sometimes hard to think clearly. Help your child develop a check list so they have a step-by-step method to reduce their anxiety. What do they do first when they first feel their anxiety coming. If breathing helps, then the first step is to pause and breathe. Continue with your child to make their own check list.
*For additional information go to the web site: www.anxietybc.com