Mental health issues and stress relief have only recently begun to enter mainstream culture and conversations. Even though most of these conversations revolve around adults, anxiety in children is also a very real and very prevalent concern. Travel or living abroad can incite new feelings of uncertainty for youngsters, especially at such uncertain times as these. Bébé Voyage is here to help you understand childhood anxiety and offer a few ways to handle it. But remember: always address mental and physical health concerns with your pediatrician first or medical professional!
Children’s hospitals, foster care homes, and adoption centers often encounter childhood anxiety because they are associated with major life changes or difficulties. However, it does not necessarily take a traumatic event to make a child anxious. Something as common as moving to a new country can spark anxiety because such transitions give the momentary impression of instability. Even flying can be a source of worry because the rumbling plane, popping ears, and new rules are unfamiliar. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service advises parents to look out for the following symptoms:
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Not sleeping or waking in the night with bad dreams
- Not eating properly
- Quickly getting angry or irritable
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Feeling tense and fidgety or using the toilet often
- Always crying
- Being clingy
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
Each of these behaviors in moderation is a normal aspect of childhood. When they are exhibited repeatedly over time and begin to disrupt the quality of life, parents should contact a pediatrician or trusted medical professional immediately. A doctor will help you decide the best ways to help your child feel more secure. Some of these techniques include:
- Talking to your child about their worries and encouraging them to notice (then notify you!) when they feel anxious.
- Sticking to a routine. Children find reassurance in regularity, so try to keep a fairly predictable schedule.
- Looking for age-appropriate books or movies on feelings or emotions to help your child understand their own.
- If you anticipate a distressing event (such as a move or change of schools), talking to your child about the upcoming challenge and explaining why it is happening.
- Using breathing exercises. Walk your child through the process of taking a deep breath in for 3 seconds, holding for 3 seconds, and releasing for 3 seconds. The increased oxygen to your brains will bring clarity and calm!
- Introducing distractions, such as playing a game or going for a bike ride, to draw their mind away from an anxiety-inducing event.
Another approach is to introduce an easily washable, easily huggable toy to accompany your child through tough times. The Lulla Doll by Roro is one of the best options on the market. It was recently granted a Top Choice Award from Baby Maternity Magazine and a Best Sleep Aid Award from Loved By Parents, among several other accolades from industry experts. The plush doll was collaboratively developed by parents and doctors to reduce childhood anxiety and help them fall asleep. Close contact, such as a hug, has been scientifically proven to improve stability and well-being in children. The Lulla Doll mimics a parent’s closeness by playing real-life sounds of breathing and heartbeats. When polled in 2017, the vast majority of parents agreed that the doll brings their child comfort as well as a better night’s sleep. And it comes in a compact bag that’s perfect for travel!
Children may exhibit different signs of anxiety, but they are just as susceptible to it as adults. If you suspect that your child may be suffering from anxiety, reach out to a health care professional to seek guidance.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual, not of Bébé Voyage, unless specifically indicated to that effect. Always consult your physician, pediatrician or medical professional when concerned about mental and physical health.
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