Nearly all kids experience some form of separation anxiety from 1-3 years old. This is when they get really upset when they see mom or dad leave. Not just upset but really upset.
Alan, do you remember having any anxieties as a child? You said you were shy? Do you know why that is?
But for some kids, it doesn’t stop there. They begin to have additional anxieties. This can be from specific objects, bring around people, animals, sounds.
We don’t want to be the one eliminating all of the anxieties as we want our child to be able to manage themselves. But we can certainly coach and teach them to assist themselves. Here are a few tips:
1) Teach them breathing and/or meditation techniques to calm themselves – Even at a very young age, learning breathing techniques is valuable. The technique of smelling the air with your nose, then blowing out the candle with your mouth was one we used.
2) You remain calm – You getting worked up is not going to help the situation as they feed off of you. It is so important for you to remain calm.
3) Let them know it’s ok to fail – This definitely applies as the child get’s older. We want to be very clear with our child that it doesn’t matter that they win or get to the top. An example of this is a climbing tower. The child may not want to do it because they think they have to get to the top. Instead you can say, try it, and you go how far you want to.
4) Encourage them but don’t push too hard – In the tower example, I’ve seen parents push their kids when it’s clear they don’t want to do it. Come on, come on, and they don’t stop.
5) Face fears – There is a fine line here but we sometimes need them to face their fear. You have to use good judgement.
6) Don’t make it a big deal – Ok, that was fun. Maybe we can try next time.
Talk about it – it’s ok to be scare or anxious
7) Be empathetic – Don’t say “Don;t worry” or “Relax” Instead be empathetic “I understand you are scared. It can be really scary to climb the wall. I think you are totally capable of it. How about you try? Just see how far you want to go?”
8) Explain the feelings they have as a positive – fight or flight – those feelings protect us. Help them understand it’s totally normal to be scared.
9) Use positive re-inforcement – when they do something, make a huge deal about it. How did that feel? You just did it! You did that all on your own.