If your child gets anxious in new situations or doing something they don’t want to, firstly, help your child write their worries down and explore solutions.
If your child has lots of worries, they’re easier to deal with if they’re out in the open and named.
- So help your child make a list of their worries.
- Then take each problem, one at a time.
- Write that worry at the top of the page, and do some problem solving. Ask your child to come up with 10 or 15 possible solutions –write them down, even the silly or funny suggestions.
- At the end, if you can think of anything else, ask if you can add it to the list.
- Cross off the suggestions that aren’t possible.
- Then get your child to look at the list and ask – what would you like to try first?
- And follow up later.
Secondly, help them find strategies to deal with their anxieties, so:
- Name their worry voice – Killjoy Kevin, fraidy Cat or Nervous Nellie.
And draw a picture of it.
Name the opposite voice- their favourite superhero, Confident Carl, Lionheart or Brave Bertha.
And draw a picture.
Then when the worry voice pops up, their superhero can say:
‘Thank you for that thought, but I’m choosing to think happy, helpful thoughts.’
- Or use a mantra like: ‘I’m strong, I’m brave and I’ll handle this.’ Or I’m calm, I’m relaxed and I’m safe’
- Another good strategy is to set aside 15 minutes a day ‘Worry Time.’ Get your child to write down any worries during the day, and only think and talk about them during ‘Worry Time.’ If your child mentions a worry at another time, ask them to wait until Worry Time, when you’ll listen to them and help them work out how to handle it.
Other strategies that may help are:
- Creative visualisation
- Deep breathing
- Progressive relaxation
- Listening to a CD like Stress Free Kids’ Indigo Ocean Dreams o OR reading books such as:
‘What to do when you worry too much’ by Dawn Huebner.
Finally, empathise with your child’s worries, and let them know that you’re there for them.
Children who are anxious need to know that you ‘get’ their anxieties. Even if you think their concerns are silly, trivial or exaggerated. They’re very important to your child.
So say: ‘It sounds like you’re worried about tomorrow’s assembly. How will you handle that?’
Or ‘You sound worried about the party. Why don’t you write that down and we’ll explore that at ‘Worry time’?
And ask: What happy, helpful thought can you think until ‘Worry Time’?
So the 3 tips to deal with an anxious child are:
- Help your child write their worries down and explore solutions.
- Help them find strategies to deal with their anxieties.
- And empathise with your child’s worries, and let them know that you’re there for them.
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