As moms, nothing brings more pain than seeing our children suffer. when they are feeling down or hurt, we want to help. With anxiety though, things aren’t so simple.
Helping them in their time of need is the gut reaction most mothers act on.
“It’ll be OK, Tommy. Everything is just fine.”
But that’s the problem with anxiety – everything is not fine. In fact, telling an anxious child that “everything is just fine” usually makes them more anxious.
They start to wonder if something is wrong with them, or why no one seems to understand.
Mothers with anxious children know this all too well. Their kids are too scared to ride the bus, or go to school events with other kids, or even play outside for fear of getting hurt.
If you have an anxious child and aren’t sure exactly how you can help, below are 3 tips for you.
- Stop Dismissing Their Fears
Children are worriers, too. Dismissing their worries and fears then reassuring them with things like “everything is fine, Tommy” doesn’t actually help them at all.
Deep down they probably want to listen to you, but on the surface, their anxious mind doesn’t let them. Pretending that everything is fine won’t do much to solve your child’s anxiety issues.
Instead, bring those fears to light. Don’t simply ignore your children the next time they tell you they’re worried. Try actually talking to them about their fears. Force them to acknowledge what’s really bothering them.
By exploring those fears, you start to expose them for what they are – just feelings.
Anxiety at its core is fear, and fear feeds on itself. By dismissing their fears, you actually make their anxiety worse. That’s why exploring those fears is a much better option.
- Explain That Worrying Is Normal and Good
Anxiety is universal to all human beings. In fact, it’s part of what makes us human. Worrying about certain threats to existence is what has helped our ancestors survive and bring life to us.
The act of worrying simply happens to keep us (and your children) safe. Explain to them that worrying is completely normal and that it actually protects us from danger most of the time. Plus, everyone experiences it.
After you’ve explained the normalcy of anxiety, then you can begin to dissolve it by discussing your children’s fears, as mentioned in tip #1 above.
- Let Them Worry (In Small Doses)
Sometimes, a little bit of worry can actually do your children some good. It’s never a smart idea to completely dismiss or ignore something that your children are thinking about.
When exploring their fears isn’t a viable option for whatever reason, the next best choice may be to just let them worry. In fact, let them share all of their worries with you for 5 to 10 minutes. Listen to them openly and do not judge what’s on their mind.
Afterwards, acknowledge these worries and let them know that you empathize with how they are feeling. Sometimes an anxious child just wants to feel like they’re not alone.
Anxiety is a tricky little devil. Many adults struggle to deal with it on a daily basis, so you can only imagine the pain a child with anxiety experiences. Try the tips above if you’re at a loss and nothing seems to be working. Above all, never give up on your children and always let them know that they are loved.