As celebrity Johnny Depp once said, “When kids hit one year old, it’s like hanging out with a miniature drunk. You have to hold onto them. They bump into things. They laugh and cry. They urinate. They vomit”.
While this certainly makes the art of parenting sound less glamorous, but it is a fact of life that parents have to take care of their children and clean up after them from the time they were born into the world. It is a noble and challenging task, and the scale of difficulties rises when the children have anxiety.
Nonetheless, as what American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead says, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think”. Instead of relying on the parents to shelter and pamper their children, how about imparting some skills to teach the children to cope with anxiety and overcome it themselves?
Here are five suggested coping skills for children with anxiety:
1. Develop Self-confidence in the child
It is important to develop the child’s personal strength and confidence. How do you do that? Showering a child with compliments is one effective way. Whenever the child does something right, do remember to shower her with compliments as a form of encouragement for the child to continue such good behavior. In contrast, avoid using punishments because it may worsen the child’s anxiety.
2. Enhance the child’s independence
While it is only natural for parents to take care of their child, it is advisable not to take charge in everything and make the decisions all the time. By allowing the child a certain level of independence to do certain things on his or her own, it reflects trust and will develop the child’s confidence and independence that will help to alleviate the anxiety. Parents can only consider leaving the child alone for short intervals of about 15 minutes, to build up the child’s independence and comfort level in being alone. The interval can be increased gradually.
3. Encourage proactive problem-solving skills
Instead of helping the child by taking care of everything, from de-boning fish to sharpening of coloring pencils, how about giving the child the opportunity to solve such problems?
For example, when the coloring pencils become blunt, instead of sharpening them secretly without the child’s knowledge in the middle of the night, parents can wait for the child to take the initiative to go up to them to ask about the blunt colouring pencils before teaching them how to use a pencil sharpener.
4. Provide stress relievers
Parents can consider introducing their children to activities which may help to alleviate their anxiety or relieve their stress. These activities can vary, depending on the individual. Some of these activities can be sports such as cycling or dancing, listening to music, drawing, keeping personal diaries or building blocks.
5. Set up a routine for day-to-day activities
Sometimes, anxiety may arise if the child is not prepared for certain tasks. Thus, keeping a routine for day-to-day activities may facilitate in ensuring that the child is prepared to accomplish the various tasks or activities required. By following a planned schedule or a constant routine, the child is aware of the list of activities in store for him or her.