We all worry from time to time, but it can be challenging for parents when a child worries too much…
Some kids may worry a lot about only one thing, such as speaking in front of their classmates…
Other kids may worry about lots of different things…
Such as being late, getting sick, having no one to play with at school, upcoming tests or not being good at sport…
Whatever the concerns are about, excessive worrying can affect your child’s body.
It can make their breathing speed up or cause them to feel shaky…
They might have a stomachache or butterflies in their tummy or they may suddenly need to go to the toilet.
Worrying too much can give them wobbly knees or make their muscles tense….
They might get dizzy or perspire. It can make them feel like crying.
These types of symptoms can be distressing for children to experience and for parents to witness…
A normal reaction of parents and children is to try to avoid the cause of the anxiety…
But simply avoiding difficult situations is only a “band-aid” solution that can actually make things worse…
So it’s important to help kids identify and challenge any negative thoughts that might be feeding their anxiety and worry…
Here’s 4 tips to help with this:
1. Be a detective.
What has your child noticed about others?
Ask them, “Is anyone else worried?”
If the answer is nobody or only one or two others, then explore the reasons why the majority of people are not worried.
2. Recognise and change unhelpful thoughts.
Discuss what your child is saying to themselves.
For example if they are fearful of not doing well in a test or a sports game, they may be saying to themselves that doing their best is not good enough; that they have to be the best.
Or if they are nervous about separating from you, they may think “I am only safe when mum or dad is with me.”
Help your child to understand that these thoughts are making them feel more anxious and to try replacing them with more positive thoughts (even just as an “experiment”).
3. Set up a regular “Worry Dump” time.
It can be helpful to encourage your child to put aside their worries during the day and then later on offload all their concerns while you listen patiently.
Sometimes a child who has worried about something in the morning may have forgotten about the problem when the afternoon “Worry Dump” time arrives.
4. Face the fear.
Sometimes the best approach is to simply tackle the thing they are worrying about even if it makes them feel somewhat uncomfortable.
This can help to reduce the anxiety in future.
Of course, common sense needs to be applied and you have to be careful not to push them way beyond their limits.
A moderate level of “healthy” stress can lead to growth and learning, whereas extreme anxiety or panic can be counterproductive.
And if you are in Melbourne and would like some some extra help with this issue?
Click the button below to book your initial parent consultation and get the right advice for your child’s needs.