fter the last few years, I think we can all agree that the world can be a scary place. And our children have noticed. They see the adults in their lives with worried frowns, and conclude that there must indeed be something to worry about.
But, lacking an adult’s perspective and means of gauging the outcomes of various situations, children tend to worry much more than is reasonable.
Use these strategies to help your child overcome their anxiety:
1. Be supportive and patient. It can be frustrating when your child is constantly worried about things that seem meaningless or silly. However, the anxiety they feel is just as real to them as your anxieties are to you.
2. Avoid giving too much warning about a stressful event. If you know your child stresses out about going to the dentist, it’s best not to announce a dentist appointment three weeks in advance. The morning of the appointment is just fine. For some children, it might be even better to say, “Put on your shoes, we have to go to the dentist.”
3. Talk it out. Ask your child what they’re worried about and why. Talk about why this fear is or isn’t valid. In other words, look for evidence to prove or disprove the reason for the fear.
Let your child know that you're sensitive to their feelings and are always there to support them.
4. Help your child to keep their attention on the present. Worry happens when we project our attention into the future and imagine negative outcomes. This is largely a habit.
Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. You should be on your guard if you’re in a dangerous position. Anxiety is intended to protect us, and warn us about situations that might cause us harm -- but too much or inappropriate anxiety isn’t healthy.
Helping your child learn to manage (not eliminate!) their anxiety is one of larger responsibilities of parenting. It’s a challenge we all have to rise to -- no matter how goofy some of our kids’ anxieties seem to be.
Be supportive. Be patient. And get professional help if your efforts prove to be insufficient.