6 ways to help your child when they worry!
In this latest blog post we discuss 6 ways to help your child when they worry. We all worry! Everybody worries! I had Harry this evening in floods of tears because he was worried that he said he wanted a ham sandwich to his teacher instead of a cheese sandwich tomorrow at their school picnic.
It's really important to stress to our children that everybody worries and it is a very normal feeling and it occurs in times of stress or challenge however small or big you perceive the worry to be. So how can we help our children when they worry?
Below I list 6 coping strategies:
1) Validate, validate, validate! When they come to you with their worry - validate their feelings. It is key that as parents we are real about our own emotions, and act as role models. Offer reassurance by saying you too have worries and feel worried at times. By doing this little validation exercise, we are normalising the feeling of worry and making sure they know that is is normal and a natural development but it's also important to say here that if you feel your child's worries are too intense or affecting the way they function then it is ok to ask for help.
2) Say their worries out loud! Tell them that they can acknowledge their worried thoughts. This might be Harry saying something like: "Mummy, I'm worried about my school lunches." By getting their worries out of their heads and feeling like they are being listened to, will give them a sense of control over them. We are the boss of our worries not the other way round. This self-awareness needs practice but the more you do it the easier it will become.
3) Help their self esteem and confidence. Of course I'm going to plug my cards here but a simple set of positive affirmation cards is the perfect way to celebrate the small wins with them and encourage them to think and therefore feel positive. Saying "Everything is going to be ok." even if they don't believe it, is so important for our negative/worried brains to hear something positive. We're trying to teach this negative brain to be positive.
4) Exposure therapy can be a good tool to help them take small steps into not avoiding situations that they are worried about. So once they have challenged their worries - in Harry's case going into the lunchroom and having a sandwich - you can really praise them afterwards for it. Often young people will have set routines and safety behaviours so by gently encouraging them to go out of their comfort zone will help them in the long run.
5) Make time for the things that they really enjoy doing. It isn’t all about education and after school activities that put pressure on them. Ask them what they truly enjoy and try and fit some of this in at least once a week. It will simply make them feel good.
6) Take some deep breaths! Learn some breathing techniques that they can use in times of need and stressful situations. There are plenty of these on YouTube and a really good one is the ‘relax like a cat’ video.
I really hope these 6 ideas how but please let me know how you get on and if you have any that you can pass onto me!