Transform Anxiety in Children into Early Resilience

Childcare 2020: Helping children with anxiety

Anxiety is common in children, impacting their academic potential and development. Can we channel anxiety into resilience as a treatment outcome so that children can go to school with confidence? 

Dr Jodi Richardson, wellbeing expert and co-author of Anxious Kids: How children can turn their anxiety into resilience, says having anxiety is normal.   

“To be anxious is to be human. Everybody experiences it…Over a lifetime, one in four adults will experience an anxiety disorder. Of those, half will have their first symptoms by the time they are fifteen years old.”

Anxious Kids: How children can turn their anxiety into resilience, by Dr Jodi Richardson

What is anxiety?

“Anxiety triggers the part of the brain to fire up the fight or flight response…to protect us from danger. It’s an emotion,” says Dr Richardson. 

Anxiety is triggered when we are faced with feelings of discomfort, frustration or anger. Anxiety affects half a million Australian children and 11 million worldwide. Most of these children are never able to stop anxiety even after the confrontation has ceased. 

How can we turn anxiety into resilience building?

  • Offer a strong support system that includes family, friends and teachers for social and emotional development. Children need a supportive pedagogical relationship that allows children to feel safe nurtured at childcare.

  • Promote a strong focus on wellbeing and mindfulness on a daily basis. Take time out of the day to let a child’s brain rest. A child’s brain is more receptive and absorbs more information than it ever will in their lifetime. Activities include meditation, reading them a book, painting a picture, playing in the outdoors or listening to music. 

  • Allow children to be out of their comfort zone frequently to help them build mental strength and also to discover their passions. Great ways include daily sporting activities to develop co-ordination, balance and confidence. Children also need to stimulate their creativity so learning an instrument or painting add benefits for boosting confidence, enhancing their imaginative side of the brain and building resilience as they progress slowly in technique.