Parents sit in my office every day looking for tips on how to help their anxious child. “What do I do when…?” is what I hear hour after hour, day after day. They may finish the sentence with “…my child won’t stop talking about his worries,” or “…she won’t get out of the car at school” or even “…he won’t stop hitting himself in the head when he is mad.” So I decided to come up with a “TIP OF THE WEEK” to share with parents who are looking for a little advice. These tips have been offered to large numbers of parents so don’t worry…they have been tried before. So here goes…the first ever TIP OF THE WEEK!
TIP OF THE WEEK: GIVE YOUR CHILD’S ANXIETY A NAME
What is anxiety? Well, frankly, it is an abstract word that adults have come up with to identify unrealistic fears about everyday events. Try to explain that to a child and they’ll look at you like you’ve grown two heads. Anxiety to kids is butterflies in the stomach, headaches, fear of going to school, being unable to sleep or feeling sick when they’re away from you. Anxiety to kids is something that shows up then goes away, but what is that something? As adults we understand it’s this abstract thing called anxiety but to kids (who are concrete thinkers) it is difficult, even impossible, to understand.
Q: What makes anxiety easier for kids to understand?
A: Kids can better understand anxiety if you give it a name
It’s so much easier for kids to understand that”Worry Walter” showed up right before the test or that “Scaredy Sally” always comes around at bedtime. What’s even better is to MAKE your child’s anxiety out of clay. Come up with a fun, crazy name and make your child’s anxiety so he or she can actually SEE it. This helps kids understand that while “Worry Walter” may show up during certain times of the day, he will always go away again. This tip takes the power out of your child’s anxiety and makes it more manageable.
For more tips on how to help anxious kids, discover Why Smart Kids Worry.