3 Tips for Calming an Anxious Child with a Learning or Behavioral Disorder
Do you have an anxious child? While all kids can experience anxiety as they grow due to the stress of school work, social situations, or other unexpected life events, children with learning and behavioral disorders often exhibit anxious behaviors more frequently than their typically developing peers. This increased anxiety may be due to multiple factors like sensory processing problems, bullying, or fear that a learning disability will be noticed at school, while for others it may be a general feeling of unease. Regardless of the reason, parents can help calm an anxious child by planning ahead. Find below three crucial parent tips for calming an anxious child:
1. Observe your child. Is your child more anxious in loud or busy social situations or does your child display a consistent level of anxiousness? Take notes about your child's behavior, his or her daily schedule, and eating habits to help you pinpoint what raises your child's anxiety. If your child's anxiety seems to be related to crowds, noisy environments, or other types of sensory input, use these tips to minimize sensory overload in kids with neuro-developmental disorders. If you suspect your anxious child is being bullied, this article offers resources and tips to help you put a stop to bullying behavior. Encourage children to confide in you about their fears and problems so that you can help them manage daily stress and relationships at school. Taking notes about your child's behavior can go a long way in helping parents resolve or minimize the impact of day to day stress for an anxious child.
2. Stick to a schedule. Kids with neuro-developmental disorders like ADHD and Asperger Syndrome (now a part of ASD) feel calmer when they know what's coming next. When possible, display a daily schedule that includes when to wake up, extracurricular activities, free time, homework time, and bedtime. Create a schedule that works for the family and takes your child's anxiety triggers into account. For example, if your child feels anxious from too much sensory input, schedule quiet breaks throughout the day that will help minimize your child's sensory overload. If your child gets anxious in social situations, schedule short play dates or social events so that your child gains social skills and confidence. Knowing what to expect and feeling successful can go a long way in reducing your child's anxiety.
3. Model a healthy lifestyle. By making exercise, adequate sleep, and proper nutrition priorities for your family, kids will learn to self-manage their health and mental well-being as they grow. Make sure kids get at least an hour of physical activity each day. While exercise will help keep kids physically fit, it will also help them sleep better at night. It's no secret that anxiety can be very disruptive to quality sleep, so make exercise and regular bedtimes a habit for kids to set them up for success. In addition, make healthy eating habits the norm for your family. Consider eliminating certain foods to determine if your child has dietary or digestion issues like food sensitivities or vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies that can exacerbate anxious behaviors. A healthy lifestyle that includes adequate exercise, sleep, and optimal nutrition can help calm an anxious child.