What are some signs of anxiety in kids?

Anxiety in children can be difficult to distinguish from other behaviours, and kids may not be able to tell us what is bothering them. Signs of anxiety may include irritability, tearfulness, fear/distress, withdrawal, need to be close to caregivers, reassurance seeking, bellyaches or headaches, sleep problems, change in appetite, shallow breathing, racing heart and sometimes noncompliance. When trying to tease apart what might be going on, think about when symptoms started, whether they have changed in intensity and what stressors may be present. If your child is distressed by symptoms or is experiencing disruptions in school, social or family functioning, it is time to seek help.

My kids fight all the time! How can I help them to get along?

Sibling squabbles are normal and teach conflict resolution and forgiveness. But if your kids are fighting too much, here are some tips to help. Over several days, record when they get along, when they fight and what everyone is doing at those times. Provide frequent and specific praise when they play well together. Briefly remove access to objects they fight over (toys, tablets). With physical fighting, separate them immediately and put both in time-out; if there’s crying comfort briefly, saying, “Sorry, you are not getting along.” Wait before asking if they can resolve their arguments; if either says no, separate them briefly. Don’t ask who started it; both are culpable.

I am very scared of being in an airplane. I get anxious when I step into a flight and when the plane takes off. This wasn’t the case until a few years ago. How can I overcome this?

Your predicament fits the description of phobia. You may experience panic attacks or palpitations or feel agitated during or before boarding a flight. Sometimes, people with such experiences have anxiety in other life situations or topics – health, death, suffering. If you have had a negative or traumatic experience while airborne, you may have begun to associate airplanes or airports with fear of recurrence of similar experiences. You can benefit from learning relaxation exercises in combination with graded air travel, depending on severity of your fear. Behaviour therapy, systematic desensitisation in particular, can help you overcome your fear of flying.