More children are being diagnosed with anxiety disorders than ever before. Some data has even suggested that many children feel worried most of the time.
Unfortunately, anxiety and worry can sometimes manifest themselves in the form of panic attacks.
Panic attacks are scary enough for adults to handle, let alone watching your child go through one.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help your child through a panic attack, getting them to calm down and feel at ease once again.
Don’t Lose Control
When a child is experiencing a panic attack, they’ve lost control of their feelings and emotions. The attack won’t last forever, of course. However, when a child is going through it, it can be an overwhelming and scary experience for them.
As a parent, it can be equally scary for you to see it. But, one of the best things you can do for your child is to keep calm and stay in control.
Some of the warning signs of a panic attack include:
- Feeling sweaty or chilled
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling dizzy
- An overwhelming sense of “doom”
- Crying or tantrum
If your child expresses any of these to you or you simply notice that something doesn’t seem right, remain calm. Speak to them gently but firmly by letting them know you are there for them.
It’s important to indicate that they are safe and secure, so they can focus on that as they come down from the attack.
Use Soothing Words
What you say to a child during a panic attack can be just as important as how you say it. Try to focus on soothing, reassuring words.
Say things like, “I know you’re scared, but I am here,” or “Take a deep breath.” Model deep breathing, offer a hand to hold, or dim the lights. Help them focus on something nearby, such as an image, a song, or a place in their imagination.
As their parent, they are more likely to trust what you have to say and take it to heart. Therefore, your instructions need to be calm, clear, and easy to follow in the midst of panic.
You can even use their name multiple times as you talk. This will let them know you’re talking directly to them in the present situation rather than just speaking in generalities.
Give Them Time
Remind your child that the panic attack will end. It’s important to reassure them, while letting them know they can handle the symptoms on their own, too. This will make it easier for them to cope later on.
Don’t rush them through the attack. Giving them enough time to calm down can be beneficial, especially if they continue to struggle with anxiety. It might be hard to see them going through such turmoil. But when they learn to regain their composure and their sense of self, they’ll be better equipped for handling the attacks in the future.
If your child is suffering from frequent panic attacks, it’s important for you to remain calm. Getting to the bottom of their anxiety can help you learn more about what they’re going through. It can also help them to learn different management skills, so that panic attacks might become less frequent.
Therapy can help your child deal with their anxiety and its associated symptoms. If your child has been expressing anxious thoughts or worries, it’s never too late to take them to a licensed therapist who can help.
Keep in mind that anxiety doesn’t go away on its own. Unfortunately, it can get worse if it goes untreated. By getting your child the help they need now, you can make it easier for them to deal with anxious thoughts as they grow up.
Please, reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you and your child deal with anxiety or panic attacks.