Childhood itself is quite an anxious process. Learning new skills, facing new obstacles, overcoming fears, and navigating a world that doesn’t always make sense are all challenges that children face. However, these worries or stressors can often be too hard to bear, and the usual comforts that adults can provide don’t seem to be enough. A panic attack can occur in these situations. Children with panic disorder are those who have recurrent panic attacks and are afraid of getting more. Shortness of breath, chest pain, choking sensations, nausea, dizziness, chill or heat sensations, fear of “going insane,” and fear of dying are some of the symptoms a child may experience during a panic attack.
Helping Kids with Anxiety
Never be afraid to seek clinical help from a Best Psychiatrist Doctor if your child is experiencing anxiety; they will point you in the right direction and perform a thorough evaluation. Anxiety problems in children are often treated with talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may assist a child in determining whether or not their thoughts are rational. Play therapy can be the most effective way for young children to work through their fears. Depending on the type and severity of the symptoms, medicine can be prescribed for certain children in the short or long term. The most widely used drug to treat anxiety disorders in children is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Give the Right Kind of Help
When their child is experiencing extreme fear or worry, parents sometimes feel powerless. It’s tempting to simply exclude the child from all circumstances that cause anxiety or to overcompensate for their child’s fear. These behaviors only increase a child’s sensitivity to these situations. Parents should affirm their child’s feelings while also modeling calmness and trust in their child’s ability to handle stressful circumstances such as school or meeting new people. Often, since children are most nervous in the days leading up to a difficult situation, parents should refrain from asking too many questions about the anxiety. It’s important to remember that as a parent, your goal isn’t to remove all anxiety from your child’s life. Your duty is to assist your child in successfully managing anxiety so that they can cope with life’s difficulties well into adulthood.
What causes panic attacks in children?
As with most mental health problems, research indicates that a variety of factors can increase your child’s risk of panic attacks.
- Hereditary/genetic influences – Having a close relative (such as a parent or sibling) who suffers from panic attacks increases the likelihood of a child experiencing panic attacks as well.
- Phobias – When children are introduced to something they are afraid of, they can experience panic attacks.
- Anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all examples of mental health conditions (PTSD)
- Bereavement, for example, is a short-term emotional cause.
- Low self-esteem
- Consuming certain foods/liquids like caffeine can also trigger panic attack symptoms in children,
How to Help your Child Cope with Panic Attacks
As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your child deal with panic attacks and get treatment for panic attacks.
Stay in control during the panic attack
If your child is having a panic attack, he or she would most likely feel out of control. This is why it’s important that you maintain power during a panic attack. Maintain your composure and speak to them in a gentle, calming tone. Remind them to take deep breaths and that the fear will pass quickly. Allow them plenty of time and space to calm down until the panic attack appears to be subsiding.
Explain to your child that when they have a panic attack, their breathing becomes heavier, making them feel light-headed, dizzy, and experiencing chest pains. Teach them to relax their breathing; this will help to alleviate the physical effects of a panic attack and speed up the recovery process. Tell your child to take three deep breaths through their nose (they can feel their chest expand), hold their breath for two seconds, and then exhale completely and totally. The next time your child has a panic attack, they should use this breathing technique.
Teach your child about panic attacks
Panic attacks may be terrifying, and your child may be worried about a variety of things, from fearing that others are laughing at them to fearing that they are having a heart attack or dying. You can help to alleviate some of these fears by telling your child some information about panic attacks. Explain to your child that panic attacks are normal and not dangerous, despite the fact that they can be frightening and unpleasant. Reassure them that panic attacks are only temporary and that even if they seem to last an eternity, they will eventually pass. It’s also important to let your child know that no one else (except close family and friends) will be able to tell they’re having a panic attack, so they won’t have to worry about being laughed at or judged.
Encourage your child to face their fears
It’s important to empower your child to confront their fears if he or she has panic attacks in reaction to certain circumstances or objects. If your child becomes anxious in the car, for example, gradually introduce them to it in carefully graded stages, such as sitting in a car while it is parked, before gradually moving up to very short journeys in the car. This will assist your child in realizing that their worries are unfounded. Throughout this method, give your child plenty of praise and motivation, and tell them that they don’t have to struggle alone.
Challenge negative thinking
The way your child thinks about things will influence their anxiety levels. Many of their emotions may be uncontrollable, and they could be pessimistic and unhelpful. As a result, it’s important to help your child understand that these are just feelings, not the truth. Even if your child believes many of their unhelpful thoughts during a panic attack, these beliefs should be questioned because they are often based on false assumptions. When your child is panicking, they might believe they are having a heart attack, which can make them worry even more. Encourage them to question this belief by telling them that the last time they felt they were having a heart attack, it wasn’t the case, and their panic attack went away.
Help your child to divert their focus
During a panic attack, your child is likely to have a lot of negative thoughts. Encourage them to focus on something else, preferably something that soothes or comforts them, to help them turn their focus away from these feelings. It could be a favorite toy, a picture of something fun, or even a pet. You could also assist your child in creating an internal “happy spot” for them to visit. Encourage them to imagine a situation or location where they feel safe and secure, and tell them to think about it if they are feeling anxious.
Assure your kid that there are always people who are willing to assist them.
It’s important to teach your child that they will never be alone in their suffering; there will always be someone to assist and listen to them. Inform your child’s teachers about their panic attacks and request that they intervene if one occurs at school. Encourage your child to always talk to and be with someone if they suspect they are about to have a panic attack.
About the author
Lesli is a Content Writer and loves to blog about health-related articles. She enjoys learning and specializes in guest blogging, blog publishing, and social media. She is an avid reader and loves writing impeccable content pertaining to healthcare.