I often explain to parents that “anxiety is contagious”. Parents often don’t understand how their own anxiety can develop or increase anxiety in their child.
It’s so important as a parent to be aware of how your behaviour can influence our child’s and make situations better or worse. You can’t stop your child from feeling anxious and worried about things. It’s not possible to take away all of your child’s worries but you can help them learn to manage and live with some anxiety.
Anxiety is a problem when it starts to prevent you from doing things and impacts on your daily life. It’s ok to give your child comfort and reassurance when they are feeling fearful but we also want to build up their ability to cope with and face their fears.
Your child will try to avoid activities and situations they are worried about. While it’s OK to occasionally allow them to avoid situations if it becomes a habit to avoid facing their fears, their anxiety and worry will only increase.
Anxiety and worry will decrease with exposure to uncomfortable situations and while it’s hard to push your child into situations they are worried about in the long run it will reduce their anxiety. Allowing your child to avoid situations can also reinforce negative behaviour patterns as they learn if I do X it means I can get out of doing Y.
5 mistakes parents make responding to their child's anxiety
- Allow them to avoid their fears
- Offer them too, saying things like “there is nothing to be afraid of”
- Show your own anxiety
- Taking over or controlling situations so they don’t have to face them and experience the discomfort of feeling anxious
- Dismissing or ignoring their anxious feelings
5 things to do to help your anxious child
- Model Being brave
- Reward Brave Behaviour
- Build Up Their Coping Skills
- Say Reassuring Scripts
- Promote Independence
For more detail on the 5 mistakes parents make and the 5 things you can do to help your child’s anxiety download your FREE TIP SHEET below.