Anxiety has become such a part of our daily language that we can forget that it can have lasting and deep impacts on our lives, even more so on our children’s lives. Typical anxiety can arise before public speaking or during airplane turbulence but goes away after the moment passes. When anxiety starts to dominate thoughts and creep into everyday decision-making, addressing it can help keep it at bay.
If your child has experienced trauma or avoids daily activities due to anxious feelings, take note of their symptoms and speak to a teacher or coach about how they are handling their anxiety when you aren’t there. Isolating the cause and environment of the anxiety can help address it. Phones, tablets, computers and TV can ramp up anyone’s anxiety levels, on top of the uncertain times we’ve experienced during and since the global pandemic.
When speaking to your children about anxiety, make sure they understand that their feelings are normal and natural responses to certain situations. Anxiety can even feel like an inner voice warning of danger. But when it is debilitating, anxiety needs to be acknowledged and addressed. How are they manifesting those feelings – physical, mental or both? With a younger child, anxiety can present as tummy aches while older children will be able to verbalize their concerns, though perhaps not the cause of them. Identifying feelings and emotions can help children (and adults) overcome fears and anxiety.
Brainstorm with your children ways to relieve anxiety – does rereading a book, listening to calming music, going on a walk, playing with the dogs or painting with no assignment in mind help them feel more secure and calm? Knowing the immediate way to relieve anxiety is important but equally important is learning the coping mechanisms that don’t require a lot of time or planning. Work with your children to count backwards from 10, take 3 deep breaths or even picture their happy place. It is important to learn these skills before the anxiety kicks in, making recall easier. Practice will help you and your child be able to pull up these mechanisms with a minute’s notice.
If you and your child are experiencing extreme anxiety, ruminating thoughts or any signs of depression, please reach out to a trained specialist to help.
Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Services has specially trained, master’s level crisis counselors available 24/7 to respond to crisis calls. Crisis staff provide the assessment and evaluation of the child, connecting them with a mental health clinician to help determine the best course of action for the child. Youth Villages will follow up with parents and providers within 24 hours of the initial crisis call.
Get help! Support services for teens in Middle Tennessee:
· TN Crisis Hotline (855-CRISIS-1) or 1-855-274-7471
· TN Crisis Text Line (Text TN to 741-741)
· Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Hotline (1-866-791-9222)
· 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at www.youthvillages.org.
A special thank you to Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas for supporting Youth Villages and its mental health services for youth in Middle Tennessee.