Anxiety affects more children and teens than ever before and it can leave parents feeling helpless to know what to do. Do you reassure your child that everything will be fine but notice that doesn’t seem to help? Do you allow them to avoid worry provoking situations? Or get annoyed and tell them that they are overreacting, only to discover the anxiety keeps coming back? These well intended approaches can actually backfire. Let’s take them one at a time.
What Not To Do:
- Avoid telling them everything will be fine. Their anxiety is real and powerful and it does not feel fine to them at all. Being told it will be fine can seem invalidating and if they think that you don’t understand them they may stop coming to you with their problems.
- Don’t allow them to avoid situations that make them anxious. Anxiety is an inevitable part of life; we all feel it at times. Rather than teaching them to avoid it, we need to teach them how to overcome it.
- Try not to tell them they are overreacting or get annoyed at them. It can be very annoying when our children are too nervous to do something that seems so simple to us, but children don’t know how to manage their anxiety until we teach them. If we lose our patience, they begin to feel ashamed as well as anxious.
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