Being worried about your child’s well-being is normal for parents, especially when it comes to their mental and emotional health. Stress plays a drastic role in affecting human lives. Nowadays, it has even impacted the lives of children. Childhood anxiety disorders include intense, stubborn behaviour and stronger emotional reactions in children. As per the National Institute of Mental Health study, anxiety disorders in children are common, affecting one in eight children. This further leads to the fact that in such cases, the role of parents becomes essentially important as they are required to assist their children in understanding and managing their anxious feelings. (Also read: Parenting guide: 10 effective strategies for parents to foster digital literacy in adolescents )

With childhood anxiety affecting one in eight children, recognising symptoms and providing support is crucial.(Unsplash)

Dr. Sonam Kothari, MBBS and MD-PhD in Clinical Neurosciences, Co-Founder and CEO, Butterfly Learnings shared with HT Lifestyle some practical tips for parents to help their children navigate and overcome anxiety.

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Symptoms to watch for in children

Children with anxiety problems usually experience persistent worry or fear. They even start complaining of illnesses that have no medical cause. While they start avoiding those activities which they used to like earlier, in many cases, they also face sleep disturbances and difficulty while making decisions.

Causes and impact of childhood anxiety

Several factors contribute to the growth of aforementioned symptoms, including excessive “fight or flight” responses. Children may inherit anxious genes that can affect their brain functioning. Loss, sickness, death, violence, or abuse can all be probable causes.

Various triggers might cause childhood anxiety to affect parts of the brain that help children with memory, language comprehension, and other forms of communication. This further makes it difficult for children to carry on tasks like preparing ahead of time, completing chores in the proper order, and making rational decisions. Thus, addressing childhood anxiety at an early stage can help safeguard their development.

Role of parents

Given the effects of childhood anxiety and the fact that every child is unique, solutions should be adapted to their specific requirements and preferences. Parents can guide children through stressful periods and help them build resilience for a brighter future by being patient, empathic, and communicating effectively. They can teach children simple relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness activities, to help them handle anxiety whenever it arises.

Moreover, parents can encourage their children to tackle their concerns positively. Celebrating their accomplishments, regardless of how minor, can also be one way to keep them motivated and energised. For parents, it is imperative to encourage children to express their feelings honestly. They may reassure the young minds that they are available to listen and that their feelings are genuine.

While parents play a crucial role in helping their children, it is important to recognise that managing childhood anxiety may necessitate the assistance of a mental health professional. Therapists who specialise in child psychology can provide certain strategies and approaches to help children control their anxiety healthily. Through implementing these strategies, parents may not only help their children cope with stress in the present but also prepare them for a brighter, healthier future.