How To Cope With Children’s Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are extremely frightening and distressing whether you are the one having it or are in the presence of someone having one. Add to this the extreme upset and worry you will be feeling if the one who is experiencing this is a child and in particular your own child.
Children’s panic attacks can occur in many different ways, but they frequently mean that the child has difficulty breathing, they may feel the need to run away, possibly tingling or numbness in the toes or fingers, palpitations or even feeling that they are going to die. They can feel aggressive if someone tries to block their escape route and may even lose control of their bladder or bowel for a short time. There can be feelings of unreality or that they are going mad.
Although it is probably the last thing you actually feel, the important thing for the child is that you remain calm and try to reassure them. Don’t shout at them. Talk to them in a normal speaking voice whilst trying to reassure them. Try to reassure them by making positive statements such as “You are not having a heart attack”, “the feelings you are feeling are not unusual”, or “I will keep you safe.”
You can ask them why they are feeling as they are but do not interrogate them. If they don’t know why they are panicking this can make them more distressed. You can try to find out if they are feeling under particular stress because of exams or bullying or problems with siblings, but it is more important to calm them and leave the reasons for their distress until they are calm.
Whilst trying to reassure them make sure that they cannot cause harm to themselves, for example by running out into the road and possibly getting run over or if it happens in the kitchen that there is not a kettle of hot water that they could knock over or electrical wires that they could trip over or anything obvious like that.
Obviously children’s panic attacks are very frightening but once they have calmed down hopefully no real harm will have been done to their health. Therefore in general terms it should not be necessary to seek medical advice immediately although if the panic attack was particularly severe or a recurrence of a panic attack then it may be advisable to seek medical advice in the longer term.
If you do need to seek medical advice make sure your doctor knows that you are seeking help regarding panic attacks because adult and children are usually treated quite differently when it comes to medication and usually in the case of children if help is needed it will usually take the form of counseling. This can be extremely successful and hopefully will be all the treatment that is required.
In conclusion, if you are unfortunate enough to have to cope with an episode of children’s panic attacks the essentials to remember are: keep calm; reassure the child; talk in a normal voice to the child; try to prevent them from physical harm and once they are calm then take the necessary action to prevent it happening again in the future.