Mindful Kids Coaching
by Fallyn Smith
5 Ways Parents Can Help their Child’s Anxiety
1. Provide empathy First and foremost, provide empathy for your children who are experiencing anxiety. Validate their feelings by showing them that they are seen and heard. Use phrases like, “This sounds really hard for you. Can you tell me about it?” And then, you must listen with understanding. Don’t dismiss their worries or try to tell them their fears are not valid.
2. Provide Comfort Depending on your child, they may need a hug, a comforting affirmation or do an activity together like coloring or roughhousing. Whatever you think will help them go from fight or flight into rest and digest. Here are phrases that help calm an anxious child.
3. Provide information Teach your child about anxiety and how the brain works. Read books and watch videos so your child knows they are not alone. You can use tools such as a “worry box” (a decorated tissue box) where they can write
their worries down and put it in the box. If you’re child can’t write yet, they can draw a picture. Another great tool is journaling. This practice allows children to get whatever is in their head down on paper and help them process their feelings.
4. Provide structure Structure helps children with anxiety feel in control and know what to expect. When possible, provide your child as much information as possible whether it’s their daily schedule, who will be at a certain place and when they can expect things to happen. Use visuals when possible so your children can always refer to it when needed. Also, provide limited choices. Children can easily feel overwhelmed so giving them 2-3 options for situations like getting dressed, choosing an activity or deciding what to eat helps give them control within your boundaries.
5. Provide practice Practice calming down techniques and strategies when calm is super important so they can access these skills when they are feeling stressed and anxious. You can practice taking belly breaths every night by inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth. “Smell the soup, cool it off” as well as practicing affirmations. “I can do hard things.” You can also pretend play with stuffed animals so your child can be the hero and help their animals who are scared.
Written by Fallyn Smith: @mindfulkidscoaching