Being the parent of a child or teen with anxiety comes with an extra layer of responsibility — and an extra large heart. It’s not easy to watch your child suffer from anxiety, from feeling calm and at-ease to uncomfortable and out of control. Supporting your child with anxiety means being there for them during high-stress times, which can often be unpredictable. Most kids dealing with anxiety will feel anxious before, during, and after social situations where they feel they might be judged. None of these days are more intense than the first day of school.
This guide gives you a few tips to help set them up for a successful year.
Help Them Start the Day Right
Anxiety is a terrible feeling that can snowball throughout the day, getting more and more intense as the day moves on. If you help your child start the day calm and confident, he or she will be better able to manage their anxious moments — preventing an emotional avalanche. Be sure your kid eats a full breakfast that’s high in protein and low in sugar and caffeine. Try to set aside enough time to go for a walk or jog; exercise is one is the strongest natural coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety. Finally, take 10 or 15 minutes for silent meditation. You might be able to combine this with walking or jogging, but either way, a dedicated time to pause and breathe can set the right tone for a healthy, happy day.
Show Them How to Manage a Workload
Time management is key to a good school year. This is especially true for students active in extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, newspaper, or yearbook who need to balance those commitments with their academic responsibilities. It’s enough for any average student to feel overwhelmed at times, but it is especially intense for a child or teen with anxiety. They may have moments where they feel like they are constantly behind or don’t belong.
Help them stay on top of their workload by creating a calendar that shows them their whole day or even week at a glance. Have them set an alarm when doing homework that encourages them to take breaks to rest their minds. Encourage them to make a to-do list every morning when they wake up and write a journal entry celebrating their accomplishments each night before bed.
Make Sure They Have the Right Supplies
From paper and pencils to calculators and computers, kids need to have the right tools in order to maintain a strong performance in the classroom. Having the right supplies means one less thing your child or teen will have to worry about, which frees up their minds for learning. Purchasing supplies can add up, but it doesn't have to break the bank. In addition to back-to-school sales and discounts for buying in bulk, you can also search for online coupons, cashback opportunities, and promo codes; even large retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart provide unbelievable online offers and digital discounts.
Set Up a Special Space
A place to concentrate on assignments, relax at the end of the day, or calm down during a bout of anxiety — your child deserves a space that accommodates all these needs. Give him or her a special space outside of the bedroom that encourages all three. Make sure to use natural lighting, soft colors, and neutral tones to create a sense of peace and ease. Set up a reading or meditation nook, headphones to listen to soothing music, and perhaps an inspirational quote or two — so long as it helps your child let go of his or her worry. You can decorate a spare room or a spare corner; just be sure to get your child’s input on how the space should be arranged.
While it’s normal to feel anxious or sad occasionally during childhood, persistent and frequent anxiety needs to be addressed. One in eight kids suffers from an anxiety disorder, and sadly, roughly 80 percent of those diagnosed don’t get treatment. If you suspect your child’s anxiety is beyond typical adolescent stress, talk to him or her with an open heart and mind.