An anxious child may not accept your reassurance, they are convinced that things are not OK and often, they cannot see past the worry.
If your child suffers with anxiety, you will know the challenges you face. You want to connect with them, make them happy and carefree, but this is not easy to do. If you are wondering how you can help calm your anxious child, instead of saying “don’t worry about it”, consider one of the following phrases:
“Tell me about it.”
Give your child the opportunity to talk through their fears without interruption. Many young children need time to process their thoughts and feelings, instead of offering solutions, let them work through their concerns.
“I am with you, you are safe.”
Anxiety tends to make things look a lot worse and much scarier than when we are at peace. Reassuring your child that you are there can be a comfort to them when feeling out of control.
“Can you draw it?”
Children often struggle to express their emotions verbally. Encouraging them to put their worries to paper through drawing or painting. When they are finished, they may immediately feel a sense of relief. Make observations about their finished piece, sit down and give them the chance to explain the image.
“What do you need from me?”
Despite your assumptions, you may not know what your child needs. Offer them the chance to tell you what they need and how you can help. This may be more successful with older children as they can verbalise their needs such as wanting a hug, or time to talk.
“This feeling will pass eventually.”
When your child is at the height of the worry, this phrase can be extremely effective. When they are feeling such strong emotion it can be hard for them to see the end, let them know that the feeling will pass and you are there to help them get through it.
Anxiety can appear different to every child. Not everything on this list will work for your child, but practise. If one phrase doesn’t work, try another and don’t panic. Eventually you will find out what works for your child and how you can offer calm, encouraging support.