How to Manage Your Autistic Child's Stress - Autism Mom Blog

How to Manage Your Autistic Child’s Stress

Children get stressed and it’s important to realise its natural and part and parcel of growing up. However, how we help them deal with stress can really define us and can be a big positive – so here are some tips on how to help them manage anxiety.


1) Let Kids Know That Facing Fear Is Important

It’s only natural to try and avoid situations that we’re afraid of. This can become a problem when a child grows anxious and avoids the source of that emotion. The anxiety simply grows over time. A child needs to be taught that facing his or her fears is the natural and healthy way to reduce that anxiety. The body has its own internal system for dealing with anxiety and restoring a healthy sense of calm. In most cases, remaining in contact with the source of your anxiety will lead to lessened feelings of anxiety after 20 to 45 minutes. (Read Lessons from a Toddler and Facing Fears Without Pushing Your Child Over the Edge to learn more about facing fears.)


2) Teach Kids That Perfection Isn’t Mandatory

As parents, it’s only natural for us to want our children to do well in every sort of performance situation: academic work, sports, and more. It’s important not to rob kids of the opportunity to be kids! Letting a child know that a score of 85 on a test is not acceptable is sending him or her the wrong message. It’s important for kids to strive and to teach them to work hard. You also need to be prepared to accept imperfections and mistakes as your children learn these lessons. (Learn more on the importance of accepting imperfection in this blog post titled “Eyes of the Tornado”.)


3) Keep Your Focus Positive

When children get stressed out or anxious, they’re vulnerable to falling into a negative spiral of self-criticism. A tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive can cause your kids to get anxious about future challenges. Get your child to concentrate on the positive side of things by setting a good example and drawing their attention to positive attributes and the up sides of the situations they encounter. (Read more in “Embracing the Worst” by clicking here.)


4) Make Time For Relaxation

Just like adults, kids need less-structured time to decompress and relax. Be careful with scheduling activities where a drive to succeed can eclipse having fun, like sporting events. Your child needs time set aside for playing with no higher purpose besides having fun. Make space in your kid’s schedule for playing with toys, engaging in non-competitive sports, playing games, creating, or simply being silly. A relaxing space can really help with relaxing children. A room where lights are low and that has relaxing sounds can be a benefit. Water features for the home may also provide that trickling and relaxing sound that can help children relax and let go.


5) Set A Good Example When It Comes To Self-Care And Behavior

Your children are going to emulate the behaviour you model for them. If you avoid excess anxiety and deal with stress in healthy ways, your child will learn to do the same. Make sure you schedule enough time to take care of yourself; this way your children will understand the importance of self-care in their lives. If you maintain a positive outlook and consistently look for the positive way to think about a given situation, your child will do the same. Parents are their children’s foremost role models. That means it’s important to take care of your own psychological health to raise your children healthy.


6) Bravery Should Be Rewarded

When your child takes a stand against his or her fears, deliver positive reinforcement by rewarding this behavior. You can use either tangible (stickers, treats) or intangible (hugs, praise) rewards. Make the motivational aspect of the reward clear from the outset. Rewarding well-defined positive behaviors will inspire your child to engage in them over and over.

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