Ways to respond to your child’s anxiety and stress 08 Aug 2022 Daniel Curry, Director & Principal, Vega Schools

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I learned early on as a parent of boys to guard my reactions. My boys were typically active and sometimes fell or got injured. It’s fascinating that they (and most kids) will first look at the parent before they react. Our expressions will guide them toward either ‘brushing it off’ or crying.  They take their cues from us. Over time, my boys stopped looking to me or their mother for how to respond. They began getting up, dusting themselves off, and getting back to play all on their own. They knew from us that these small injuries were no big deal and they could handle them.

Children will mimic adults

In the same way, whether as a parent or as teachers of a top CBSE school in Gurgaon, adults need to recognize how our guidance informs children. Through our reactions and our responses, we teach them appropriate responses and strategies. They will mimic us when very young children and eventually their own personalities will take shape based on that early experience.

Adults should not panic

When children experience anxiety or stress, we must also not react emotionally or in a panic. If we do, they will learn that anxiety and stress are cause for panic. Our goal is to train children to recognize their emotional state and then have tools and strategies to get through those times.

Parents should reassure that things will be fine

At our Pre-Nursery school and Nursery schools in Gurgaon, we are used to the separation anxiety little ones face at first. Parents must hide their own discomfort and encourage the child that everything will be fine. Sometimes that is too hard a task for parents, and then the transition time is increased. As adults, we should first let them know we hear them. We don’t dismiss or minimize their fear and anxiety. Second, we reassure them that things will be fine and they will get through the difficult time with the support of both parents and teachers.

Academics and relationships’ related stress

Older children start to face other sources of stress. This may be from interpersonal relationships or from academics. Too often parents’ anxiety about marks or academics seeps into the child’s outlook. They pick up on everything from body language to tone of voice. They begin to fear this big, scary monster called ‘examinations’ and ‘marks’. That fear would not be an outcome of attending any top school in Gurgaon or elsewhere, which would focus more on individual growth rather than stressing marks. There are enough stresses for adolescents without additional ones being added by parents; additionally, this kind of fear is counter productive as it leads to poorer performance.

Parents should keep a handle on emotions

As responsible adults, we don’t react in our emotions or even in our facial expressions (besides showing empathy and love). If they see we are shocked or visibly upset by something, they will internalise it. Even the act of keeping a handle on our own emotions provides a guide for children to learn and copy that skill.

Ask gentle questions

The approach is to first acknowledge the feeling so the child knows we hear them. Through asking questions in a very low-key way, we communicate that the situation is something that happens normally and that we can work our way through it productively. Ask questions to get more information, like ‘when did this feeling start’, ‘why do you think you started feeling this way’, and ‘what things might help you feel better in this situation’. We turn the child’s anxious energy inward to get them thinking and reflecting. The more we calmly talk through situations with our children, the more that becomes their natural reaction.

In this way, we are teaching children that anxiety is a normal, expected human emotion. We all face it and we shouldn’t fear it. And there are ways to work through any situation if we take time to reflect and think.

Top Gurgaon schools will ordinarily train teachers to deal with anxiety in children. A top school in Gurgaon will lay special emphasis on anxiety and stress in children, especially after the pandemic. Counselling of teachers and students in these techniques will go a long way to creating happy children.

For more information on the above subject, write to us at info@vega.edu.in.

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