Toddlers can be hard to manage on a regular day, but imagine adding anxiety and fear into the mix and it can make for a stressful day.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the physiological and physical manifestation of fear and danger in the brain. It is our warning alarm of protection and is a biological function that we need to help keep ourselves safe.
This alarm can become faulty and go off when it shouldn’t. Humans are the only mammals on the planet that can set this biological fear system off by just a thought, so it’s no wonder toddlers can easily feel anxious.
Anxiety in toddlers
The key to supporting your toddler is teaching them skills to manage their own emotions and help them learn to turn their internal danger alarm off.
1. Keep calm!
It can be hard as a parent or caregiver to keep calm when you have a toddler screaming bloody murder. However, research shows that children especially toddlers are highly aligned to parents’ emotions.
2. Emotion coach, validate and accept emotions
Once you feel calm and ready to handle your toddler it is important to connect and accept your child’s emotions. This is not going overboard and making your toddler more worried. It is simply noticing and naming the emotion and validating that it is there. We want to convey that we completely understand, but we can get through this and we won’t let this anxiety stop us from doing things.
3. Watch for meltdown cues and use calming strategies
When you notice the beginning of meltdown cues it’s important to implement any co-soothing or coping strategies. This may look like their favourite song, or it could be you placing your hand over their heart and helping them engage in deep breathing till their heart rate comes down.