Helping your anxious child

Anxiety is not uncommon in children – most school-aged children experience anxiety symptoms. There can be different reasons for this. So, as a parent, how do you help reduce your child’s anxiety and stress?

Here are five steps you can take to protect your child from experiencing negative emotions:

1. Focus on the positives – Often, anxious and stressed children get lost in self-criticism and negative thoughts. They also worry a lot about the future. As a parent it is very important to focus on your child’s positive attributes and the good aspects of a situation – this will help remind your child to also look on the bright side of things.

2. Try to show healthy ways of handling anxiety – Let your child see how you cope with anxiety yourself. Let your kids hear or see you managing stress and anxiety calmly and encourage them to find ways to manage it.

3. Teach coping skills – One of the best ways to help your child cope with feelings of anxiety is by teaching them coping and calming skills. Practice simple relaxation techniques with your child, such as taking three deep, slow breaths – breathe in for a count of three and out for three.

4. Get a “worry” box – Use an old tissue box and let your child write down their worries and place them in the box. Then you can sort through the box together at the end of the day or week.

5. Get professional help – If you don’t manage anxiety, it can eventually lead to mental health issues. If you are unsure how to help your child, contact a professional mental health counsellor.

For more information on anxiety and how to get help visit the South African Depression and Anxiety group website.

Read more: The dangers of sharenting

Images: Gallo Images/Getty Images. Sources:,