Anxiety in children
Childmind.org has a very good article on anxiety https://childmind.org/guide/anxiety-basics/
It states that anxiety is common in many children; it is a natural reaction to a stressful event, but anxiety disorder can interfere with a child’s daily living and prevents the child taking part in activities that other children their age enjoy.
In Clark Goldstein’s article he suggests ways to manage your child’s anxiety. https://childmind.org/article/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-children-are-anxious/
Some of his advice is in this blog. He suggests not to avoid situations that make your child anxious. You cannot eliminate anxiety, but you can support your child, understand her fear and tell her she will be okay, and she can manage the situation.
As a parent we want to protect our child. If your child starts to cry and feels uncomfortable when anxious, it is natural for parents to whisk their child out of the situation or remove the thing that is making them scared. No parent wants their child to be unhappy and suffer. However, the child will feel better in the short term as the stressor has been removed but the fear will increase the next time.
If for example, she is scared about getting a shot at her doctor’s appointment, it helps if you validate her fears and reassure her by saying you will be with her, and she can handle it. Do not belittle her or say shots do not hurt. Shots can hurt and by saying it will not hurt may jeopardize the trust she has with you. Also, anxiety builds up before a situation so do not go on about the doctor’s visit 2 hours beforehand as your child may get worked up but shorten the time she needs to know about the appointment. Together you can brainstorm some coping strategies: she could concentrate on her breathing, count backwards from 10, look away from the needle, think nice thoughts or pick out all the blue things in the room. Afterwards tell your child how you appreciate how hard she works to cope with her anxiety.
Facing the stressor helps to reduce the fear for the next time. The anxiety may not go away but your child will learn to cope with it. Tell your child that being anxious is okay and you will help and support her face her fears.
You are her role model so be mindful how you cope with stress and anxiety. Do you transmit your anxiety onto her? If your child fears dogs and you meet a dog when you are out walking. How do you react? Are you worried how your child will respond and your child picks up that she should be fearful?
And lastly, discuss your child’s anxiety with her. If she is nervous that you will be late to pick her up, talk the situation through with her. What will happen? What would she do? Let her come up with a solution. Can she speak to the coach who will call you? The coach will stay with her until you arrive. Planning can help reassure your child and reduce her anxiety.
If you feel your child is not coping with her anxiety, there is lots of advice, support and help. The pediatrician is a good place to start.