How to deal with anxiety and fear in toddlers early on

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Anxieties and fear in toddlers (age between 1 to 3 years) is considered to be useful in many situations—it can come handy in safeguarding your child from, and help her learn about, potential hazards/dangers like fire, height, strangers, etc. But with growing age and understanding, these common fears tend to subside. If it doesn’t, then it is essential to seek professional advice.

Causes of Anxiety and Fear in Toddlers 

Though every child experiences fear, some tend to be more fearful than others. This might be due to many reasons, such as:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • More emotional and sensitive temperament
  • Observation of anxiety prone parental behaviour
  • Stressful situations/Other environmental exposures
  • Parental over-protective behaviour

Anxieties and Fear in Toddlers (1 to 3 years)

As your toddler takes her first step, and starts walking around, she learns different skills according to her age level. During this time she also begins to have different kinds of fears. Her fear of stranger is about to subside (social anxiety symptoms) and fears of darkness, size, height, etc emerge now. However even at this age the fear of separation remains. Hence, your baby can show anxiety symptoms such as nagging and being clingy or can cry and try to stay near you.

With a growing awareness of her dependency on caregivers, separation anxiety, in toddlers, gets more pronounced at this stage. 

What parents can do to soothe anxieties and fear in toddlers?

  1. Plan your parting – When you have to leave your toddler with the caregiver, do it in a gradual step-wise way. Initially allow your baby to stay apart from you for a short period of time, let her get habituated with your absence during a particular time of the day, and then gradually increase the time.
  2. Let your baby know that you will return soon – Whenever you are leaving make sure that you announce and tell your kid that you will return and by what time. This ensures your child that you are not leaving her, but only going away for a while.
  3. Be in touch – When you are away, try to call and talk to your baby on fixed intervals. Initially you may find your baby is crying after hearing your voice, but gradually she will adapt to this routine and will eagerly wait for your call. This process helps in strengthening emotional connect between you and your child.
  4. Implement a routine – Implementing and following a particular schedule on a regular basis makes it easier for your toddler to adjust with her anxieties. Some kids show anxiety at bedtime. And so a routine helps. For example, if your baby is afraid of darkness and night time, keep a bed lamp on. To soothe her and comfort her during bed time, try a routine of bed time story or song; this will distract her and will calm her down to sleep peacefully.
  5. Don’t act panicky or anxious in front of your baby – Your baby can adopt fear-prone behaviour by observing and copying you. Try to act calmly when your baby is around.
  6. Limit scary visuals – Try to limit watching any kind of scary image, movie or show that can induce fear and anxiety in your toddler.

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