3 Steps to Help Your Child With Anxiety

Anxiety, worry, and stress... Oh my! Big feelings don't have to be scary.


Back in high school, I was in marching band (yep, total geek here!) which meant that I was NOT a cheerleader.


No pom-poms. No midriff showing above a short skirt. Definitely no high-kicks or back flips.


But here I am, all grown up, and it turns out I’ve been a cheerleader on the inside all along.


I’m quick to offer the silver lining to a friend’s dilemma or a word of encouragement to celebrate a client.


This natural positivity is great for reframing a bad day, but it can actually get in the way of letting our children feel their feelings.


Yes, we want to cheer our kids on and even cheer them up, but there are critical steps to do before that.


My story of helping my daughter, Nina, when she was seriously worried about the first day of school highlights this:



Say it: Name the feeling that your child is expressing to validate their experience and give them actual words if they’re young.

Feel it: Invite your child to notice the knot in their stomach, the headache, or their bedtime jitters so they learn that feelings start in the body.

Soothe it: Help your child feel safe and calm in whatever way works best (you know your child!) - maybe a close snuggle, quiet music, or swinging for a bit.


Then, once you sense your child has really felt their feeling and joined you for comfort, you can offer a pep talk or a reminder of their resilience.


You could tell them a story of a time when they felt scared or nervous, went ahead with facing the fear, and then found out it was all ok. You can affirm your child's courage, bravery, and willingness to try new things.


Yes, when we show our confidence in our children, they feel more confident within themselves.


And we can do this after we first honor all their tough feelings.


Oh, did I mention you can follow these exact steps to help yourself when you are feeling anxious or worried? When you practice your own emotional intelligence, you become a role model and an even better emotional coach for your child.


Let me know in the comments what happens when you try these steps with your child.



 

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