Anxiety in Children
Hello, once again, my name is Emily. I a mum of four. One of my four children is Alana, and she is 11 years old. Alana worries constantly. I have her seeing a therapist, but I was wondering if you had any ideas about how to help a child stop worrying--maybe some techniques or guidance on activities we could do to help ease her worry.
I am sorry to hear about your daughter worrying so much. Please can I ask if there is a common theme to the worries (e.g. friends or school) or if she just worries generally about many things?
Relaxation techniques can be used effectively by children even of this age to help them relax. There are many relaxation cds available to buy out there which will help children struggling with anxiety to practice controlled breathing and learn to let go of stresses.
I think you are right to look into how to help your daughter with this as worry and the subsequent stress can have a negative impact on even a young child's health. Regular exercise helps to relieve stress. Does Alana enjoy exercising and does she have favourite sports that she could do more frequently? If not, it may be a good idea to take up some more sports. This should also help her to increase her confidence and self-esteem levels.
Another idea I have is that studies have shown that owning a pet leads to decreased stress levels and actually increases the life of their owners. Does your daughter have a pet? Even owning a small animal such as a guinea pig can help a child to have some time-out from their worries and relax. It also gives them extra responsibility which many children flourish in. Of course, if you were considering this your daughter would have to be committed to caring for the pet.
I think it depends on the level of the worrying and the cause of the worrying as to whether you would take your daughter to a therapist at this stage. Here is a link to an article about What Causes Anxiety in Children from a resource which I have found useful in the past.
I hope this information is helpful for you.
I've found that children who feel very secure in their environment and who have strong, healthy relationships with their parents and siblings tend to have worry less and be more confident in general.
It would really help if we could know more about the things that your daughter tends to worry about, but without knowing this I would encourage you to make her feel as secure as possible. This may mean spending more time with her and making her a part of most things that you do.
If you go on an errands, take her with you and ask her to help. If you're going to the grocery store, have her help pick out fruit with you. If you're going to the clothing store, have her help hold the clothes as you try them on.
Let her help make meals with you and/or bake cookies. Make it a fun "together" time as she becomes your little helper in most things.
Encourage her to shadow you. Let her know that it's okay, and you can even invite her to follow you throughout the house as you do chores. Of course you will have healthy boundaries, and you won't invite her into the bathroom if you need to use it, or into your bedroom when you go to bed. But the more you can do with her during the day that helps her to feel secure, the less she should worry.
If she worries about school or about grades, then you may want to consider a homeschooling option because this lends itself very well to increasing self esteem.
And it's super important that you make sure she's on a very clean, healthy diet. Make sure she is getting some deep green leafy vegetables in her diet every day. Green smoothies are loved by children, and if you make it with bananas, blueberries and leafy greens like spinach, kale or lettuce, she won't see the green color because the purple from the blueberries will be dominant. Also, when you use sweet fruits like bananas, the green taste isn't noticeable. If you notice the "greens" taste, then just add more sweet fruit.
Here's a video showing you how to make a Banana Blueberry Green Smoothie.
B Vitamins are also very helpful in regulating mood and brain activity, so it might be beneficial for your daughter to take a high quality multi-vitamin that has a lot of Bs in it.
Hope this helps, and please let us know how you're doing.