February 12, 2020
Good morning and Happy Wednesday!!
It seems that everywhere you read, you see that rates of anxiety are increasing in both adults and children.
Did you know that children with anxious parents have a greater chance of suffering from anxiety? It’s hard to control our emotions sometimes but it’s important to watch what we say when faced with difficult situations. Children learn more from how we act than how we tell them to act (adults too!!)
So here are three tips to help your anxious child :
1. Communication- Sometimes children overhear conversations or see something on television and interpret what they are seeing with the limited knowledge they have about the world. It’s hard as adults to remember what it’s like to be 7 years old, 13 years old, 18 years old…you get the idea. So we tend to think they are interpreting situations the same way we are! Don’t assume! (We all know what happens when we assume!:)) Instead try open ended questions or ask your child about what they are thinking about when they feel scared or anxious. Their answers may surprise you and you will feel better equipped to help them understand.
2. Consistency – Kids thrive when they know or understand what to expect. Having routines and a schedule that they understand and can follow can do wonders for an anxious child. Consistency gives comfort. Follow through on your promises (don’t promise things that you may not be able to do!). Give consistent responses to your child’s questions. Always be honest. It is important to be honest with your kids. They need to know they can trust you.
3. Care- Sounds obvious right? We always need to show that we care. Try not to say things like “oh it’s nothing” “just forget about it” “try not to think about it”. These kind of responses belittle a child’s fear or anxiety. Instead try to listen to what your child is saying and validate their concerns. Saying things like, “it’s normal to feel scared in new situations but let’s give it a try” is more supportive and more comforting. Walking your child through what to expect can also help. You take away the fear of the unknown.
As always, being present, communicating, being consistent and always showing that you care will always steer you in the right direction.
I hope you’re having a wonderful week!
Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.