Three Ways Parents Can Help Their Anxious Child
When children become overwhelmed by their big emotions or anxious thoughts parents are often left feeling helpless and wonder what they can do to help. Here are 3 simple strategies that may help!
* Model good coping skills: When you’re stuck in traffic and the kids are in the backseat demanding to know when you will get home and what is for dinner and you feel your heart start to race and you face flush – talk through how you calm yourself down. It might sound something like this “Wow. I am starting to feel really frustrated. My face feels warm and my muscles are tense. I need to calm down. I am going to try taking 3 deep breaths.”
* Remain neutral or calm: Our brains are experts at picking up subtle clues that can feed the fire of anxiety. If your face, tone of voice, or body language is tensed or stressed-regardless of what you are actually saying – it could be sending the message to your child’s brain that they are right to worry. So, when your child is upset, pay attention to how your body looks and feels and how your voice sounds.
* Connect and empathize: Before you work on problem solving or correcting behavior, it is important to connect with your child and validate what they are feeling. The next time your child is upset, listen and observe and then offer an empathetic statement like, “This feels scary; this feels really hard for you,” or even a simple “I am here.”