6 ways to ease your tot’s anxiety

Follow these handy tips to stop your little fella’s fears from getting the better of him.

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As your kiddo grows, she may sometimes seem more anxious and fearful about the world around her than ever. Her brain is now more aware of the potential dangers around her but isn’t well developed enough to differentiate between what’s real and what’s imaginary.

Toddler anxiety is common and often only affects them for a brief period of time. It shows up as changes to your little one’s behaviour like appearing to be frightened, crying excessively or throwing a tantrum. Sometimes, it may even cause her (and you) to lose sleep, she may also avoid the object or person who makes her feel uneasy.

 

“[While] it may be hard for parents to watch, most of the time, nothing needs to be done other than some reassurance and understanding from the parents.”

 

Explains Gleneagles Hospital psychiatrist Dr Lim Boon Leng, “[While] it may be hard for parents to watch, most of the time, nothing needs to be done other than some reassurance and understanding from the parents.”

Dr Lim lists ways in which you can help your mini-me cope with several common situations that may trigger anxiety. However, if your child’s fear is beginning to affect her day-to-day activities or her symptoms have become more persistent, Dr Lim advises that you consider getting your sweetie professional help.

 

1. Changes in routines

WHAT Putting routines and schedules in place can make a huge difference to your sweetie’s nature. Predictability ― which removes one’s fear of the unknown ― is what most toddlers thrive on. Yet because of our hectic lifestyles — the routine can be thrown off course ― especially if you’re a stay-at-home-mum who’s just re-joined the workforce. However, Dr Lim notes, “If a child becomes angry or upset over the slightest change in routine, underlying problems such as autism need to be excluded.”

THE EXPERT SAYS Most children should be able to handle some degree of change — some may even find it exciting and refreshing. Also, sticking to rigid routines can actually make it tougher for your child to adjust to changes. Dr Lim advises that you remain firm and persistent when amending timetables. “The child will adjust in time to come. Talk to him to understand what his underlying anxiety or fears may be and provide reassurances.”

 

2. Sensitivities

WHAT A child who has a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) acts out when she’s exposed to loud noises, can’t focus or look at an object for a prolonged period of time or is fearful letting her bare feet touch sand or grass. However, some children react by not responding to the sensory signals by showing little to no reaction to pain or sensations of extreme heat or cold.

THE EXPERT SAYS Underlying disorders like autism or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may cause your tyke’s SPD, so it’s vital to get that checked. An occupational therapist may suggest sensory integration therapy — specific movements or activities tailored to help your child regulate his senses. However, you should take note of what triggers your sensitive child’s episodes. Dr Lim suggests, “Have a safe zone with objects he is comfortable with, where your child can retreat to when he is overwhelmed.”


Read on how to handle another four fear-inducing situations, next!