Ask AF: Alleviating a Child's Anxiety

Anxiety can affect a wide-range of children, even those that seem "well-adjusted." If anxiety is a problem for your child, try following this expert advice to help him manage his feelings.

Q: My seven-year-old daughter becomes very anxious when I cannot immediately meet her needs for food, drink, and so on. How can I help her feel more secure?


A: Many other parents are in the same boat! Their children are well-adjusted — except when they have to wait for attention. Then they shift into anxious, controlling behaviors.

Here are some self-calming techniques you can teach. Tell your daughter that she can change anxious feelings through her thoughts and positive self-talk. For example, she can think, “I know my mom will always take care of me,” or “I can wait a minute.” These thoughts will shrink the anxious feeling. Or she can try saying aloud, “Calm down,” “You can do this,” or “It’s no big deal.” Practice these scripts with your daughter.

Another helpful approach to try is deep breathing. This entails taking several deep breaths — in through the nose, out through the mouth, with an emphasis on breathing out. To help, have your daughter visualize being a whale who surfaces and blows out noisily — and then breathes in. It will also help your tension level to coach these positive thoughts and techniques!


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