Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses plaguing society right now. Unfortunately, anxiety in children in recent times is at an all-time high. Parents sometimes fail to understand what their children are going through, due to the belief that since they are young, they don’t have much to worry about. But that is where they are wrong.
Immense peer pressure and academic pressure can take a heavy toll on children, and this leads to them suffering from anxiety. Being a parent is an incredibly tough and challenging job, and getting to understand each and every aspect of parenting is quite intimidating. But when it comes to anxiety in children, as a parent, you need to do everything in your power to help them with it.
A few simple words can relieve your child’s angst, worries.
As a parent, you want to take away your child’s worries and shield them from pain. The problem is that you can’t. Life teaches them about life.
Younger kids might be afraid of being away from caregivers, bumps in the night, needles, or missing the goal net. In a study of kids aged 9 to 13, 86% of them said they worried a lot about the health of someone they loved. Worries about their future and school also topped the list.
The teen years produce its own set of anxieties. “Will so-and-so like me?” “Will I make a fool of myself?” “Will I get the grades I need to get into college?” “Am I beautiful enough, talented enough, smart enough, lucky enough to get what I want?”
Not all worry is bad. A certain amount of it has a purpose: to motivate you to act or to avoid danger. Fear becomes problematic when it becomes a child’s mode of operating, and it sets in before they’re able to solve their issue. It can evolve into an anxiety disorder, which interferes with your child’s ability to function.
Your job as a parent is to prepare your child for adulthood and all of the expectations that come with living in society. Effective parenting means creating positive beliefs and building self-efficacy. Your role isn’t to eliminate their anxiety; it’s to help them learn how to manage it.
You’ve probably figured out by now that reassurances don’t work. Statements like, “Everything will be okay,” “calm down,” and “stop worrying” fall on deaf ears. When someone is in a state of anxiety, their emotional brain has taken over, and the rational mind can’t process your advice. Your child’s anxiety is likely to rachet up a notch, which only becomes more frustrating and stressful for you.
Connecting with your child on a more emotional level is likely to generate a better result because the emotional part of the brain has already been engaged by the intense fear and worry.
What you can do to relieve your child’s worries
While a pat on the back and “you’ve got this!” can be affirming, it’s not likely to shift a child’s thinking patterns during a crisis or calm them down physiologically. But, there are other things you can say to your child to make them feel less stressed and more confident about tackling anything that comes their way.
Say these things to relieve your child’s worries:
Here are 15 calming things you can say to your child to relieve their anxieties and worries:
1. “I get it. You’re scared.”
Don’t be afraid to name what’s going on. Dr. Daniel Seigal says that when you name your emotions, it jump-starts your executive brain. He reveals, “you’ll have a greater capacity to choose your response at the moment.” By putting a label on their emotions, your child can either agree with you or tell you what they are really feeling, so you can both deal with that problem head-on.
2. “I know this is hard.”
Worry is hard, so tell your child that you understand. By mirroring their feelings, they’ll be more likely to connect with you and open up. You’re also validating them, and telling them it’s ok to feel what they’re feeling.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
3. “Would you like a hug?”
Hugs have many benefits! Physical contact can stimulate the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, and decrease the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Your child will feel more relaxed and more able to think more rationally about their situation.