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Anxious Child: Helping Your Child To Manage Anxiety & Fears

Posted by in Uncategorized | 10 comments

Is your child afraid or anxious?

Parenting children who are anxious often makes the parent anxious too. Parents can help their anxious child develop the skills and confidence to overcome fears so that they don’t evolve into phobic reactions. The following techniques may be used by parents to assist the child in coping with his or her anxious behavior.

Symptoms of anxiousness include:

  • constant thoughts and intense fears about the safety
  • fears about school and other places
  • frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints
  • extreme worries about everyday tasks
  • being overly cautious
  • panic or tantrums
  • sweating, fidgety, unable to physically relax
  • trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • fears of meeting or talking to people
  • avoidance of social situations
  • few friends outside the family
  • many worries about things before they happen
  • constant worries or concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)
  • fears of embarrassment or making mistakes
  • low self esteem and lack of self-confidence

Fear is Real
As trivial as a fear may seem, it feels real to the child and it is causing him or her to feel anxious and afraid. “Being able to talk about fears can help,” Dr. Manassis says:
“Words often take some of the power out of emotion; if you can give the fear a name it becomes more manageable. As with any negative feeling, the more you talk about it, the more it becomes less powerful.”


Always believe your child’s fears

Telling a child, “Don’t be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!” may get him to go to bed, but it won’t make the fear go away.
However, don’t cater to fears. If your child doesn’t like dogs, don’t cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided.
Teach the child how to rate fear

Teach your child how to rate the intensity of the fear on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest. Your child may be able to “see” the fear as less intense than first imagined. Younger children can think about how “full of fear” they are, with being full “up to my knees” as not so scared, “up to my stomach” as more frightened, and “up to my head” as truly petrified.
Teach coping strategies
Try these easy-to-implement techniques. Using you as “home base,” the child can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again. The child can also learn some positive self-statements, such as “I can do this” and “I will be OK,” which he can say to himself when he feels anxious. Relaxation techniques are helpful as well, including visualization (of floating on a cloud or lying on a beach, for example) and deep breathing (imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).
Other strategies to implement

  1. Set realistic expectations for your child
  2. Use positive statements and reinforcement “I love the way you did that!”
  3. Allow your child to succeed on his /her own
  4. Allow your child to learn how to manage his/her own feelings by using a feeling chart
  5. Avoid passing your anxiousness and fears onto your child

Medical Check-up

If your child has an unusual pattern of constant fears and anxiousness, contact your medical doctor and schedule a physical appointment. Share your concerns with your medical doctor.


Discussion Topics:



  • Amy Mulligan says:

    Im a single parent and my daughter is 5….i seperated from her dad when she was 2 and things havent been at all good with us. She still has contact with him through his mother. Lately she has become very withdrawn, not wanting to play out with her friends, visit relatives or anything social. She gets very upset and complains of tummy pains. Im extremely worried and I havent a clue what i can do about it. Shes in the middle of her school holidays at the moment and she seemed fine when she was in school interacting with lots of children and learning new things, Im wondering could this be the problem, could she maybe need to join a club or something. Please help, Im at my wits end :(


  • michelle says:

    my daughter is 13. She is always nervous.she has panic attacks in the beginning of the school year that she wont be able to keep up with the work. she is a nervous wreck. she also cannot tolerate noise well. she feels my 10 year old son breathes too loud and she cant be in the same room as him. When people whisper she sticks her fingers in her ears to block out the noise. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do with her to relax her?

  • Scott says:

    These two parents received help from “Ask A Counselor” listed under Online Parent Counselor in the feature box at the top of this Website. You can too!

  • Susan says:

    My daughter is 9 and my son 11. I have been home with them for 11 years, and just recently went back to work full time. Her nervousness about me going back to work seemed manageable those first couple of weeks because she was in school all day, and my 11 year old would get her off the bus, and 45 minutes later, my husband would be home.
    Now that it’s school vacation, every morning,. it’s a teary struggle to get out the door, regardless of who is staying with her for the day, or what activities I’ve planned for her to go out and do with friends. She doesn’t want to go. She’s says her stomach is upset, and she can’t make it through another terrible day without me. This continues all day, with crying phone calls, and continues into the night, with worry about the next day. How can I help her make this adjustment for days off to come.

  • mashelle says:

    help i have a daughter that has severe anxiety about going to bed and i am at my wits end i don’t know what to do anymore. Does anyone have any suggestions on what i can do to help calm her to go to bed without all the problems. she is five years old and I just cant seem to find anything that works!HELP

    • Kim Lipinski says:

      I have a son, 9 years old, that has this very same struggle with going to bed. I have found a wonderful CD called “Indigo Dreams” that I stumbled upon on the Autism website.

      It is amazing how it puts him to sleep in a peaceful state of mind.
      Before the CD, he would wrap the covers so tightly over his entire body including his head, like he was in a cacoon.

      This CD is becoming our bedtime ritual. We do it together and after the second story, his arms are outstretched and his body is peaceful and calm and he is fast asleep.

      The key that I find is to get into a routine and structured bedtime each night and plan on taking 30 minutes to get them to bed each night. I found this to be a lifesaver in our home!

  • donna blyth says:

    i have a 10 year old daughter who keeps being sick every school morning,she is ok at weekends and school holidays.when i ask her is anything worrying her at school she says no,i don’t know what to do

  • Shereen says:

    My son is 7 and he has a twin brother but he is very nervous and shy to mingle wz people and gets anger tantrums for no reason even if he hears a small sound he gets angry and asks me to put off this sound while he is allowed to keep his tv volume high !!! Pls help I’m a single mum but my parents r helping me:(

  • Carng Mom says:

    Like my boss, I seldom say great job to a good something, however nowadays right after stumbling directly into the doorsteps of the blog, I can say you did a terrific work! And I ain’t your boss.

  • julio ibarra says:

    my son is 4yrs old and is afraid of going to school prekindergarden.I also had fears of going to kindergarden when i was a child i am 46yrs old now.
    All my life i had fears issues.Is my son going to have
    these same issues.What can i do to help him any advice
    besides pills at age of 4years.

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