Panic attacks are usually experienced in adults, and occasionally in teen years too. Unfortunately, children can also be affected by panic attacks – however rare it may be. This is usually due to some sort of trauma that the child has experienced, or may still be experiencing. It’s highly important to consult with a specialist therapist for this reason. There are thankfully some tips you can apply at home too.
Here’s how to control panic attacks in children:
Never Punish Your Child
It’s frightening to watch your child having a panic attack and – quite understandable – it can become frustrating to see it happening over and over again. Couple this with other stresses you have as a parent and the environment becomes right for you losing your temper, shouting at your child, and dishing out some kind of punishment.
This will only serve to worsen the panic attacks over time, so please refrain from punishing your child during or after a panic attack at all costs. As frightening as it may be for you, it’s even more upsetting for your child. What they need most in the midst of panic attack is your love, comfort, and patience.
Do Not Shelter Your Child
Your natural instincts as a parent tell you to protect your child no matter what. It becomes very tempting to start sheltering your child from everything as a result of panic attacks. It’s a normal instinct, as you mean only to care for your child, but it is certainly not recommended.
Firstly, it’s virtually impossible to avoid all possible triggers, and trying to do so may only cause more stress. Secondly, you should rather be teaching your child coping methods – and avoiding problems or running away for problems will never be the answer.
Sheltering your child can lessen self-esteem, lower a child’s level of independence, and in turn increase the severity and/or frequency of panic attacks.
Teach Your Child Coping Methods
As mentioned above: it’s so much better to teach your child coping methods than trying to shelter them from all the possible triggers that may cause panic attacks. This is vital because it teaches your child independence, problem solving, and grows their confidence – all essential tools that they can carry with them throughout life.
Let’s look at an example: perhaps one parent is absent and your child suffers from separation anxiety. They often cry when you drop them off at school or at their grandparents’ house. Your child sometimes had panic attacks as a result.
You simply cannot take them out of school, or let them absent for days at a time. But you can reassure your child that they are loved and will not be abandoned or neglected, and then add simple touches to this that work as coping methods. You can give your child a special bracelet or necklace that you can say is filled with your love and watches over them when you aren’t around. Tell your kid that all they have to do is hold onto the necklace, breathe calmly and deeply to the count of 10, and that they should feel far more loved and relaxed. Your child needn’t wonder how to control their panic attacks if they have go-to coping methods they can fully rely on.
Let your child know that they are loved and that you are there for them no matter what. That way they will always feel more willing to turn to you and open up about their anxieties. You can also lead by example by having your anxieties in check, and by providing an open, safe, and comfortable environment for your kids at home.