Ten Quick Tips to Help Your Anxious Child
Author: Eliza Huie
Anxiety is no respecter of age. Out of the many people who recognize the validity of this statement, parents are among those who feel the truth of it most deeply. Knowing it to be true is one thing, knowing what to do about it is quite another.
As with every effort in parenting, you want to look at the root cause and point children to the comfort and care of God. Addressing the heart with the truth of Scripture is your goal. Yet there are times when the body gets in the way of the heart’s ability to receive instruction. This is often the case when parenting an anxious child. In these circumstances, parents can make greater progress by focusing on and addressing both the physical and emotional needs of the child first, in order to prepare them to effectively process and internalize spiritual instruction.
“There are times when the body gets in the way of the heart’s ability to receive instruction.” Eliza Huie
Below are ten quick tips parents can utilize to support their child who is dealing with anxiety. The tips provided will assist you in effectively managing the needs of your anxious child and help you foster a sense of calm in both their body and in their mind, thus creating a better opportunity for future heart connections to be made or strengthened.
1- Practice deep breathing: Teach your child how to take slow deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth. This can help them relax and feel more in control when they’re feeling anxious.
2- Encourage exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve overall mood. Encourage your child to participate in activities they enjoy, such as sports, dancing, or playing outside.
3- Use imagination: Help your child imagine a happy, peaceful place in their mind. Encourage them to imagine feeling God’s presence in that place. Encourage them to take a mental break and visit this place whenever they’re feeling anxious.
4- Talk about feelings: Encourage your child to express their feelings and listen to them without judgment. Help them understand that it’s normal to feel strong feelings and that there are ways to manage those feelings.
5- Establish a routine: Consistency and structure can help reduce anxiety in children. Establish a regular routine for meals, homework, and bedtime and stick to it as much as possible.
6- Meditate on Scripture: Teach children how to meditate on God’s word. Use songs that help them memorize Scripture or write encouraging Bible verses on cards for them to see through their day. Encourage them to focus on Bible verses and let go of anxious thoughts.
7- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night and establish a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation. Include a time of prayer in your child’s routine where they give all their worries to the Lord.
8- Limit screen time: Excessive screen time contributes to anxiety and other mental health issues. Set limits on the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices. Join them in these limits.
9- Encourage positive self-talk: Parents can shy away from this fearing it could make a child proud. However, all people, children and adults included, have a negativity bias that leads them to easily slip into unhelpful thinking. Teach your child to speak kindly to themselves and to challenge negative thoughts. Remind them of their God-given strengths and talents.
10- Seek professional help: If your child’s anxiety is impacting their daily life, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a Christian mental health professional or a biblical counselor. These professionals can come alongside parents to provide strategies and tools to help your child manage their anxiety and connect them to the hope to be found in Jesus.
Implementing these strategies is not all that is needed. Parents should seek to understand what is driving the anxious thoughts. For most of us, a hyper-focused pursuit of personal safety and control can lead to anxiety but the Lord intends that we would trust and depend on him rather than on ourselves (Proverbs 3:5-6). When you help your child to better understand and manage their anxiety you are now in a more favorable position to address their spiritual needs. Remember to be patient and supportive, and never hesitate to seek the help of your pastor, a more seasoned parent, or a professional if needed.
Posted on February 9, 2023