Anxiety is a cycle children are caught in. Well-meaning parents can create unnecessary fear and anxiety for their children as they navigate trying to be great parents. Over validation of every little concern and excessive preparation for minor experiences can cause more emotions that parents were trying to minimize.
It’s difficult to cure anxiety altogether in children. Some anxiety is genetic, and others are as a result of situations beyond your control. But you can minimize the effect that anxiety has on your child’s development, and over time you can help them develop the coping tools they need to be able to handle the anxiety and stress they deal with every day.
- Reinforce Brave Behavior:
- While you shouldn’t reinforce fearful behavior, you cannot punish your child either. Rather, when your child does something fearful you try to minimize its importance, and instead reward your child whenever they do something brave. Make sure your child knows how proud you are all the time when they’re showing signs of bravery and confidence. Over time, it will start to feel more natural for them.
- Choose Your Battles:
- You hear the phrase, “Choose your battles,” all the time. It’s great advice for just about any situation, but how do you know which battles are really worth fighting for? Do you stress yourself out all the time by disciplining and yelling at your child for things that they can’t always control or do you let it go and TRY to walk away? My suggestion is to take a deep breath and think about what solution will offer the closet win-win situation. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Is it worth fighting over?
- Am I just frustrated with the situation?
- What will bring me the most peace?
- Is this just a one-time incident or is it repeated behavior that I need to deal with now?
- Is there a way to resolve the issue without creating additional frustration to anyone?
As adults, we want to be the stronger person. We want to show our child who is boss and force them to play by our rules. We are role models and at the end of the day the judge and the jury. It isn’t an easy job. I can help you with this, just schedule your FREE 30 minute phone session at www.BeckyShafferliveinconfidence.com
- How the Mind of an Anxious Child Works:
- Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child goes through phases. A phase is temporary and usually harmless. But children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with depression and or ADHD. With treatment and support, your child can learn how to successfully manage.
- A typical day can go like this: Anxiety: Okay but what if–-Kid: We went over this a hundred times and resolved this. Anxiety: Yeah, but I’ve looked at it from a new angle and there are 15 more reasons why I should worry about it. Kid: can’t sleep, brain is wide awake, feeling scared, pit in stomach and probably has no finger nails left.
- It’s important to Talk to Your Child About Their Anxiety:
- Children and teens often don’t recognize their anxiety for what it is. Instead, they may think there is something “wrong” with them. Children may focus on the physical symptoms of anxiety like stomachaches. Teens may think they are weird, weak, out of control, or even going crazy! These thoughts might make them feel even more anxious and self-conscious. Therefore, the first step is to teach your child about anxiety and how to recognize it. Self-awareness is essential!
- Helping Your Child Recognize Anxiety:
- For younger children, talk about how you will both be “detectives”, and how you will help your child in an “investigation” to find out more about anxiety. As detectives, find examples of how your child experiences anxiety in each of the three parts: physical symptoms, anxious thoughts, and avoidance behaviors.
- If age-appropriate, ask your child to come up with a name for anxiety (e.g. Mr. Worry, Worry Monsters).
- Children of all ages find regular routines reassuring so, if your child is feeling anxious, try to stick to regular daily routines where possible.
If your child’s anxiety is severe, persists and interferes with their everyday life, it’s a good idea to get some help. Some children do grow out of anxiety, but if it’s not addressed in childhood, it can continue into adulthood. Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear – it’s an understandable reaction in children to change or a stressful event. As a life coach, helpful daily tools can help you or your child learn to minimize anxiety breakouts as I call them.
For some children, anxiety affects their behavior and thoughts on a daily basis, interfering with their school, home and social life. This is when you may need professional help to tackle it before it becomes a more serious issue.
Becky Shaffer—-Adolescent/Adult Life Coach http://www.BeckyShafferliveinconfidence.com