The last thing you want to do when a child is anxious is make them feel fear. To prevent from this thing happening, building respect is the best solution. Conversely, respecting your child’s feelings is somewhat difficult for a parent. Why? Because most parents have the belief that they are always right and they always know what is the best for everyone. Well, this is not actually true. Experience wise, yes, you are ahead of your children but when we are talking about feelings, experience is not the topmost criterion for that.
Here are the top ten to do and not to do when your child is experiencing anxiety:
#1. Assist a child to manage anxieties.
Nobody wants to see any child suffer from his or her own worries that make him or her unhappy. However, we need to face reality that anxieties cannot be totally eliminated from anyone’s system; and the preeminent approach we can do is to assist them in learning how to endure and accept their personal anxieties. That they can still function normally and continue with their life even if anxieties are everywhere. We have to teach them how to react in a more positive and motivating manner rather than dwelling on the negative side of such.
#2. Prevent from giving band-aid solutions to anxieties.
In dealing with anxieties, do not let your child avoid such things by getting away or escaping from it because it will only underpin anxieties in a long run. You must let them face their anxieties and since they are just kids, proper guidance should still be present. Do not take control over the situation instead support them and make them feel that you are always there to back them up. However, you have to make certain that giving out help is well-balanced or not too much. You do not want your child be much dependable on you during such times. Giving your child proper advises or options, letting them know that consequences of their actions or giving them encouragement will make a whole lot of difference.
#3. Positive yet realistic expectations are better than false hopes.
Do not promise your child that everything is fine and dandy; that there is no chance of failing an exam, everybody will like him or her, or nobody will laugh at his or her mistake during a showcase. However, you can convey assurance that he or she will be able to manage it; that everybody commits mistakes or everybody has flaws and shortcomings. You need to make a child be open to all possibilities regardless if it is good or bad.
#4. Respect but do not empower a child’s feelings.
It is exceptionally significant to recognize that confirmation does not constantly mean agreement. Therefore, if a child is scared or anxious about getting a vaccination, you do not want to neither ridicule his or her feelings nor intensify them. Listen and sympathize with your child, then encourage him or her that he or she can manage it. The message you would like to relay is, “I know you are afraid but that is alright and I’ll come with you to hold your hand.”
#5. No to leading questions.
Do not ask leading questions when you seem to find a child suffering from anxiety. Because if you do, you will only make it worse instead of opening an opportunity to fix the problem. From the word itself, these questions lead to state of panic and give a completely new set of pressure to a child. Rather than using leading questions, it would be better to raise open-ended questions. Open-ended questions persuade a child to talk more about his or her feelings rather than leading questions.
#6. Prevent from reinforcing or emphasizing a child’s fears.
“Probably this is a thing that you need to be afraid of.” This statement is an example of reinforcing a child’s fear plus saying it in a stern tone or gesture. Such statement does not help the situation either; you do not want to aggravate the fear of a child. So express your thoughts or insights in a more non-threatening or non-sarcastic way.
#7. A compliment makes a difference.
If a child is already struggling at school and he or she is constantly having difficulty to fit in, make it a habit to compliment his or her hard work. You have to let a child knows that the effort he or she is exerting is not a waste. Uplifting a child’s confidence brings encouragement and will to continue to deal with anxiety; and later on will reduce the worries until it reaches a point where a child is not that bothered at all. Home is definitely a child’s comfort zone and you must not take that away from him or her.
#8. Make time; do not make any excuses or alibis.
It is given that in an average household, both parents are busy working and attending to other things as well. However, that is not an excuse for you not to have quality time for your children. If you do not have time, make time. Time management is not an easy job but to start it off, make use of Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. Covey’s time management is divided into 4 quadrants and it is based from urgency versus importance. List down what are the things that are urgent and important, urgent but not important, important but not urgent, and not important and not urgent. Spending time with a child to talk about anything under the sun will not only benefit your child but will also benefit you. You both learn things during conversation and get to know each other better because let us face the truth, not all parents know their children and vice versa.
#9. Practice what you preach.
A reason why most children do not believe advises the parents give is because most of the times these advises are mere advises; parents do not even practice what they say to their children. Therefore, be a good influence or example to your children. I am not saying that you need to pretend you do not have your own personal anxieties or worries but you must show your children how you take them, manage them and feel good facing them.
#10. Prevent from passing your own anxieties to your children.
A rule of thumb and this last point is the most important of them all. You must avoid from passing your personal anxieties to your child. First of all, it is not their fault that you have your personal issues and they should not take the blame of it. However, it is not also a bad idea to share your anxieties with your child; maybe in this case, it will open a door for your child to relay his or her own worries as well. With this, you can work and get through things together.
There is nothing wrong in protecting a child from any type of anxiety but it is wrong to take full control over a child’s anxiety from him or her. You are there to support and encourage but let them handle anxiety on their own.