Kids don’t generally develop anxiety disorders all on their own. Oh sure, genes and biology have some influence, but these factors largely just predispose kids in the direction of acquiring problems with anxiety. The wrong messages can push both anxiously disposed kids as well as otherwise normal kids in the direction of struggling with anxiety for the rest of their lives.
If you’re a parent or someone who cares about kids, you just might want to know what type of messages instill insecurity. I’ll start by laying out three common mistakes that parents make; in other words, the kinds of messages you “don’t” want to give them:
So what’s a parent to do instead? One of the best ways to help prevent kids from developing anxiety disorders is to model how to cope.
I recommend that parents express when they’re feeling anxious and tell their kids how they plan to cope with it. For example, you might say, “Sometimes I feel nervous when I have to climb a ladder, but I just need to take a deep breath, be careful, and do it. If I get too nervous, I can always climb back down, but it feels good to get through difficult tasks.” Another good strategy is for parents to praise their kids when they make efforts to do things that are a little anxiety arousing for them.
The bottom line: Gently encourage your kids to confront their fears, let them know that a little anxiety is normal, and don’t try to keep them away from all challenges and risks.
Photo by Juliakoz, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: November 4, 2011 | World of Psychology (November 4, 2011)
The Anxiety Free Child Program | Rescue Youth (November 27, 2011)
Last reviewed: 2 Nov 2011