If you have an anxious child, she might be very shy, clingy, and have trouble mixing with other kids. Which means even the smallest things like parties or bedtime can make her – and you – feel stressed.
Here are 8 things mums of an anxious child knows. And the tips for how to calm your child if she is overly anxious.
Parties can be a minefield
For an anxious child – who can often be shy and timid – arriving at a party where all the other children are excitedly racing around can be incredibly stressful.
And she is likely to want to stay glued to your side for reassurance.
At a party the best thing you can do is call the mum who is throwing the party so you can find out what is goir.
Knowing what to expect, and which of her friends she’ll see will make her feel more confident.
Arriving early may help, too, so she has time to get used to surroundings before the mayhem starts!
If your child is anxious, she’s like to experience higher levels of separation anxiety at nursery or school drop offs, not wanting you to leave her.
The key is to spend a few moments in conversation with whoever will be looking after your child when you leave.
There is evidence to show that when you leave, your child will calm down much quicker if she knows you like the person she’s being left with.
Remember, it’s likely that, as soon as you, go your child will be distracted by activities, and by the time you pick her up she’ll be fine.
Surprises aren’t always a good thing
Many children love surprises. And if you have an anxious child, it’s likely she’ll love them too – but will need to be told to expect a surprise so she can prepare for it.
Some kids will enjoy it but they will need more warning ahead of the surprise than children who aren’t as anxious.
She doesn’t need to know exactly what the surprise is – just that something is going to happen and things are going to change quickly.
Going on holiday can be stressful
A week in the sun abroad or at a holiday park sounds like a dream.
But your child might find the thought of going somewhere unknown – and a change to her routine – really stressful.
Spend some time preparing your child for the holiday and let her know what to expect when she is there.
Another really important thing is to let her bring a favorite toy or blanket along. That transitional object will help reassure her, because it reminds her of home and safety.
She listens to EVERYTHING you say
If your child is anxious it can feel stressful for you at times, knowing how to handle different situations to make her feel calm.
Yet it’s vital you don’t talk about her anxiety in front of her as she’s likely to absorb everything you say.
Be mindful of what you say in front of your child.
Your words will stick so always choose a positive way to talk about her. For example, rather than saying “my child is anxious” or “my child is a worrier”, say
‘“my child is very alert” or “my child is quick to react”.
Kids can pick up what you’re saying from as young as three-years-old. Even though she may not understand your words, she understands your anxiety.
Playdates aren’t always fun
You love playdates – a chance to catch up over coffee with a friend while your kids play together.
Yet if you have an anxious child, this rarely happens and instead she’ll probably want to stay with you, rather than play with her friend.
If your child is anxious it might be she doesn’t want to leave your side. It can be very reassuring for her if you say: “You can stay with me until you want to go and play”. It’s a gamble, but often they’ll want to go and play after a very short time.
Bedtime can make your child feel anxious ...
She might also have trouble sleeping. The thought of being separated from you at night can cause your child to feel anxious.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, if your child is unable to sleep alone or in a different room to you, this could be a sign she is overly anxious.
Which is why making her bedtime routine the same every night so important.
Have a predictable bedtime routine so it’s the same. A night light can also help.
This will help reassure your child if she wakes up in the night, something anxious children could be more likely to do.
Her anxiety makes YOU feel anxious too
Having an anxious child who needs reassurance and routine can often make you feel anxious too.
It’s important to look at your own levels of anxiety. Practice mindful breathing to help you as that will calm your child down as well.