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How can we limit the anxiety in our child's life?



You don't have to look far to find growing statistics on the level of anxiety being faced by our younger generations, and the problems are escalating.


As parents and care givers, we want to do anything in our power to help the young people we love, and we certainly don't want to make the situation worse.


So what are some practical things WE can do to help limit or at least not add to the anxiety being experienced in the lives of young people we love, and promote their empowerment at the same time?


As Jonathan Haidt explores in his recent best seller 'The Anxious Generation', the anxiety being experienced by 18-25 year old young people in US has increased 139% since the early 2010’s, and the statistics keep getting more alarming.


He talks about the effects of children who are growing up with a 'phone based' childhood, versus previous generations who experienced a 'play-based' childhood, and while in some ways this is just a sign of the times, there are practical things we can do to help those we love limit their levels of anxiety.


These tips might help:


Create and promote a ‘calm’ space within the home


The atmosphere at home plays a crucial role in our own and our child’s mental wellbeing. You might want to create a 'calm corner' or room where there is soft lighting, calming music, and a clutter-free space. This can really help young people to foster a sense of peace and find some calm amidst the noise of life.


Establish and stick to family or household routines


Children thrive on predictability. Establishing regular routines for meals, homework, and bedtime can provide a sense of security. Knowing what to expect helps reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Make sure to include downtime in their routine where they can unwind and do activities they enjoy, preferably without devices.


Allowing children to become ‘bored’ is a powerful path to empowerment, building skills for flexibility, problem solving and tolerance.


Foster independence


As Haidt says in his book, children have lost much of their independence over recent decades as parents have understandably become more protective.


Maybe we don’t jump in and solve every altercation between friends or siblings. Encouraging children to build their independence and problem solving skills offline is healthy and supports their critical and creative thinking skills.


Could our children go to the shop down the corner and buy milk and bread for the household?



Encourage open communication


Create an environment where your children feel safe to express their feelings and thoughts. Let them know it’s okay to talk about their worries and fears.


Let them know that ANY topic is ok to bring to you, then the trick is to actively listen to them without judgment and validate their feelings.


This open line of communication can significantly reduce anxiety by making them feel understood and supported.


Get outside and promote physical activity


Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Encourage your children to engage in physical activities they enjoy, whether it’s playing sports, dancing, biking, or simply playing outside. Physical activity helps process cortisol, release endorphins, improve mood and reduce anxiety, and spending time in nature is well researched to help us physically, mentally and emotionally.


Practise relaxation techniques together


Introduce your children to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery, and better still do them together. These tools can be particularly useful when they feel overwhelmed.

Practising these techniques together can also be a bonding experience and show them that managing stress is a normal part of life.


We include are a range free relaxation ideas for all age groups in the Positive Living Skills Family Link. 


Foster a positive mindset


Help your children develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to focus on their strengths and the good things in their lives. Practising gratitude together, such as keeping a gratitude journal, can shift their focus from anxiety-inducing thoughts to positive experiences and feelings.


Set realistic expectations


High expectations and pressure to perform can be significant sources of anxiety for young people. Emphasising effort and learning over obtaining specific results helps support empowerment.


Celebrate their efforts and progress rather than just the outcomes and this will help them develop a growth mindset and reduce their fear of failure.


Quality family time


Spending quality time together as a family can provide a strong support system for your children. If you can find and pursue an activity that everyone enjoys, such as playing games, cooking together, or going to a particular destination will not only strengthen the family bonds but will also provide a safe space for all family members to relax and feel secure.


Lead the Way


This is probably one of the biggest tips for all of us who care for or want to positively influence young people. If we want to limit the time our kids are on their devices, we must put ours away too. Want our kids to get outside more? Go outside and get amongst nature.


Children often and easily pick up on our stress. By managing our own stress effectively, we are modelling healthy coping mechanisms for our children. Take time for self-care and seek support if needed. Remember, it’s okay to show your children that it’s normal to feel stressed sometimes and that there are constructive ways to handle it.


Want them to learn to apologise when they make a mistake? We need to model that as well, and if we said something to them that we regret it can be challenging to apologise, and so powerful when we do.


We are walking talking role models and in every choice and decision we show them what we are made of. If we can set and stick to our own 'rules' it shows them the way.



 


By implementing some of these practical tips, you might help limit the anxiety in your child’s life and contribute to a supportive environment where they can thrive.


Sometimes we forget that small changes can make a big difference, and the consistent love and support you provide are the most important tools in helping your child navigate their emotions and build resilience.




Until next time,





The PLS team

 

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