7 Methods I Use When My Child Is Anxious

In this blog post I talk about methods I use when my children are feeling anxious and these are my 7 best ones and they work!

Validate your child's feelings: If any of my children come to me feeling worried, the very first thing I do before anything else is validate their feelings.  I say: “OK” followed by another “Ok.  I understand.”  I immediately validate their worry and their feelings.  I might even go onto to say: “OK, I understand you're worried about…*said worry.”  I then validate what they are feeling even further by explaining that I also worry about their worry saying: “I worry about *said worry too.”  This process of validating their worry is a brilliant way to validate how your child is feeling and it immediately makes them feel that a) what they are feeling is ok,  b) that you've understood them and c) someone that they love also feels like this sometimes too.

Feelings come and go like buses: I usually do this next method when my children aren't in the height of their anxiety but in a quiet moment possibly just before they go to sleep.  I get them to visualise this scenario.  Their worry is on a bus coming towards them.  At the moment they can see it in the distance and the worry feels ok.  You know it isn't nice but it's far enough away it's not a big worry yet.  As the bus (the worry) comes closer and closer you start to feel more and more anxious until the bus stops at the bus stop where you are.  At this point you're feeling really really anxious and scared and frightened.  BUT (and it's a big but) once the bus has stopped at your bus stop it goes off again and at this point you can see your worry go off in the distance.  This is a good way of reminding your children that next time they are feeling anxious, remind them this horrible feeling WILL go away again.

Imagine the worry as a creature or thing: Get your child to draw their worry as a creature thing.  This process gives them a definite thing to target.  This process takes it out of their heads where it can rattle around, get worse, get bigger and out of promotion and onto a piece of paper that they can see.  An extension of this activity is to then rate their worry on a scale of 1 to 10.  This helps too and gives you an idea of how your child is feeling.
Use positive affirmations: Of course I'm biased but they work!  Your child's negative brain has to hear something positive.  It is a way of counter acting against your child's anxiety.  It will improve your child's mood and child's ability to think positively.  This leads me onto another point, which is to be positive and calm.  However horrible your child's anxiety makes you feel you must give off a vibe of calmness and positivity.  (Shop our positive affirmation range by clicking here.)

Do not say: There are a few things to avoid.  Don't say: “Don't worry.” “You'll be fine.” “Try not to think about it.”  It sadly just belittles their worries.  Instead acknowledge it.  Don't try and fix it because that suits you.  You may not be able to fix it.

Give your child something to look forward to: This is a goodie and one I find myself doing now without even thinking!  Give your child something to look forward to.  It is a form of distraction.  It switches your child's mindset into thinking about something more positive, which helps them to think positively.  I often tell Bass I'll bring him his favourite after school snack to pick up.  Imagine if it was you.  Who doesn't like something to look forward to?  It is not dismissing their worry.  You are still acknowledging it but you're just giving them something nice to think about.
Set aside ‘Worry Time’: Set aside worry time but not too much!  With dedicated worry time you can validate their feelings and listen to them but don't dismiss their worries or dwell on their worries too much.  Hear it.  Listen and then move on.  They've said it and you've listened.  In the future they'll come and tell you because you've listened.
Say your thanks yous:  Lastly.  Remember to say your thank yous with your child.  Think of three things you are both grateful for.  Once you've discussed the worry say thank you.  What are you grateful for?  Again this will help your child focus on the positives.  I also use the thank you method as a way of talking back to the worry, which also helps too.
I hope you these methods help you and your child.

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