It is bedtime. It is also time for the tears and fears.
It is school time again. Welcome back stomachaches and tantrums.
It is a party invitation. Here come the jitters and clingy hands.
New classes and new seasons begin. Hello, late nights and self-doubt.
Will your child ever beat anxiety?
Anxiety is a beast. It is the silent presence in your family that is wreaking havoc and taking away happiness in its wake.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Parents don’t have to be a lifelong victim to anxiety – and neither do their kids!
Teach your kids to fight back and beat anxiety. Teach them that they don’t have to be on the defensive, trying to keep their heads above water. Teach them that they can be on the offensive, proactively taking the bull by the horns and telling anxiety who is boss!
But how do you do this?
First educate yourself on how anxiety works
The quickest way for parents to exacerbate their child’s anxiety is to try to make sense of anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t make sense. The more parents try to make rational sense of anxiety, the less they are getting it. If you want to help your child beat anxiety, learn what you are battling first.
Develop a language for talking about anxiety
Anxiety needs to be talked about. If you sweep it under the rug, everyone will trip. Come up with a way to talk about anxiety.
I am a fan of personifying anxiety and making it something the whole family is trying to battle. This helps externalize the problem. You are not trying to change your kids, you are trying to protect them from their anxiety dictator who is bossing them around.
Understand your child’s particular fears and worries
So many times I work with families who don’t have a true grasp on what their child’s anxiety is really about. Learn what makes your children’s anxiety tick. Do they have anxiety themes that drive their worries?
Teach your kids to fight their negative thoughts
All too often we teach kids to take deep breaths and to get their “minds off their worries” instead of teaching them how to defeat those thoughts. Distraction only go so far. Parents need to get to the root of the worry and pull out that weed.
Set up challenges to taunt anxiety
Anxiety feeds off avoidance. It loves when it is able to convince a child to not do something because of a fear or worry. Teach your kids that the more they face their worries, the smaller their anxiety dictator will get. Help encourage this by offering challenge rewards when your kids ignore their anxiety and face their fears. As they do this, challenges will become easier and they will start to beat anxiety.
Be proactive and keep an eye out for new worries
Anxiety doesn’t want to go away. Like a weed, it will go where you aren’t spraying. You think you beat anxiety and all the school fears. Hello, new worries about bugs. You think you tackled the whole bedtime issue? Hello, fears of getting sick.
Anxiety is relentless and you should be too. Watch your kids and look for new signs of fears and worries. Speak about those fears early when they are tiny weeds. You can tell your kids something such as, “It sounds like your dictator is bothering you again.” This helps them keep anxiety on their radar as well.
The bad news is anxiety doesn’t just go away. The good news is, with your help, kids can beat anxiety and make it a little pest instead of a big beast.
How do you help your child with anxiety? Share your tips in the comments below.
Do you know parents who are struggling with an anxious kid? Share this article with them.