For many of us foster parents we tend to see anxiety in our kids pretty often. For some of our kids this can really stop a lot of family outings in their tracks. A lot of these children get comfortable in this perfect little bubble they make for themselves and they have no intention of breaking it!
Over the last so many years we have seen well, I’d like to say it all but that would not be true as we tend to get these pop up surprise behaviors lol. But all in all I can say we’ve dealt with this subject a bit and I can share with you what has worked for our family. If you have an anxious child maybe this can help you a bit.
Letting a child know that you are here for them and that they are safe and the environment you are providing is safe as well is the first step. Anxiety has a way of making things look and feel scarier than when we are not feeling worried. Just simply telling them you are here and they are safe can comfort them when your child is feeling out of control, especially if they are at the peak of their worry. They need to know they are not alone through this scary time.
The second and another very important step is to have them take full deep breaths. If they are having a hard time doing so breath with them! Everyone can benefit from slow deep breathing. Verbalize what you are doing and how it makes you feel. Some people hold their children close so they can feel the rise and fall of their chest as they breathe. This is very soothing and calming for them.
Once you come to a calming state acknowledge your child’s fear without making it frightening. Let them know that you can feel what they feel. Again reassure them that you are here for them and they are safe. Don’t leave them until they have fully processed through their anxiety attack.
Instead of assuming that you know what your child needs, give them an opportunity to tell you if they can. If they still can’t tell you what they may need from you ask them some simple questions like, “would you like a hug?” “Would you like to take a walk?” “Would you like to put on your favorite song?” Don’t just do things without their approval because this could send them back to an anxious state. It’s all about them being able to trust you through their fears.
Empathy is huge when it comes to a child’s behavior. We all just want to be understood. Think about you as an adult, when you are scared, mad or sad you just want to be heard and feel that your emotions are being acknowledged.
Having something like a stress ball around through all of this can help them have some emotional relief. Buy a ball, keep play dough nearby or make your own homemade stress ball by filling a balloon with flour or rice. One of our children really loves the play dough as another likes the actual stress ball. But whatever gives them relief can really help!
I hope some of this information helps you in some way. Anxiety can be a really scary thing especially if you feel you are all alone. Sometimes if we have the right person to calm us we slowly build the confidence to fight our anxiety. Once we feel confident in ourselves we have now accomplished having one of the biggest tools in our pocket to be able to handle anxiety on our own. So teaching our children through these times with a calm and assuring environment is sure to help them gain confidence and see warning signs or triggers of possible anxiety creeping up.
For some people who can recognize early feelings of anxiety they can use their calming methods and beat it all together. It just takes the right people and environment to help someone with anxiety.
Compassion, Empathy & Love can heal a lot of things in life ❤️.