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How to help your child manage worries and anxiety 2

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 19 October 2013
Some ideas for teaching children how to understand or manage their fears realistically, test their validity, and become less reactive to anxious feelings.

1. Make sure you understand the child's fear before trying to help them with it

Listen carefully to your child as she explains what's bothering her. Don't jump to conclusions -- and don't assume that saying "Don't worry" will help.
For children who are reluctant to explain their fears, it may be helpful to have them draw a picture.
You might ask him to rate the fear on a 10-point scale.
Don't discount the worry. Acknowledge the feelings while giving the child information. Age-appropriate books on the worrisome topic can help. A child with fears about storms, for example, might benefit from reading about lightning and other weather phenomena. Sam (named changed of course) was a 9 year old boy who had a fear of sharks. He would cry uncontrollably if he glimpsed a picture of one. His parents gave him as much information as possible about sharks and recently he even watched Jaws! He is currently looking forward to a school trip to Underwater World where he will have the opportunity to feed them.
Books about the worries of other children can be especially helpful. Having your child read about how another child dealt with similar fears can help to foster a discussion about worries.


2. Devise a technique the child can use to "banish" scary thoughts

Your child might imagine writing words on a whiteboard or tablet -- and then rubbing them out. Or he might imagine putting the scary thoughts in a box and putting it on a shelf or burying them in a hole or sealing them in a rocket and then blasting it into space. A younger child might feel better by having a “conversation” with a puppet who offers to take the worries for them.


3. Make up a plan to assist them in fearful situations

If your child dreads going to birthday parties for example you could get them to take one of their friends to the party so they don’t have to go in alone, Or you might plan an early leaving time, which can help a child feel that she has some control over the situation.


4. Teach relaxation techniques

Yoga, deep breathing, and other self-calming techniques are highly effective.
Some kids have developed their own ways to calm themselves when they feel worried. Ask them what they already do to self soothe. They might hug a pillow, listen to a recorded story or music, play with a pet or favourite toy. Remind them to do these things when worried as they might not realise that they have already devised their own strategies.
A parent that I have been working with recently told me about the following great set of books called Imaginations: Fun relaxation stories and meditations for kids by Carolyn Clarke www.imaginationsforkids.com

5. A couple of books about worries

Worried No More, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Up and Down the Worry Hill, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst


Warm Regards,
Meg

 

Author: Meg Parkinson
Tags: being assertive anxiety dealing with disappointments worried children stressed children
info@thriveparenting.com.au