Helping children deal with anxiety

Boys Town

When kids suffer from anxiety their heart starts pounding, they have butterflies in their stomach and their hands shake because their body and mind is telling them that there is danger.

"The one thing that I want people to know is that everybody has anxiety, all of us," said Dr. Kristen Galloway, Boys Town Behavioral Health Expert. "And that anxiety can actually be a really positive, helpful, adaptive thing. And the problem and where many parents struggle is sometimes anxiety can be impairing."

Here are three important things to remember if your child is experiencing anxiety:

  1. Educate and normalize. Everybody experiences anxiety. It protects us from unsafe situations, but it starts to cause problems when it prevents us from doing the things we want or need to do.
  2. Validate how your kids are feeling, that they're experiencing anxiety right now, that that's okay. And then help them recognize, "Is this a real alarm-are we in danger? Or is this a false alarm, and I'm okay and safe."
  3. Stop telling kids to stop worrying about things. If they could stop worrying, they would.

Parents can help their kids struggling with anxiety by teaching them to breathe normally. A lot of times people struggling with anxiety, are breathing uncontrollably. Another helpful strategy is creating a distraction, find a way to get them out of their head-by listening to music, watching a video, or coloring.

If you’d like more information about anxiety or other parenting advice visit www.Boystown.org.