Supporting Your Anxious Child

anxious girlby Cristin Patterson, LLPC, NCC

When our children are worried and anxious we try to reassure them by saying “trust me”, “you will do great”, or “you will be okay”.  Our intention is to help them feel better, but these messages are often internalized to mean that their worries are invalid or trivial.

Typically, your child’s worries are not just about a single worry, but more accurately are worried stories. “What if I fail my test? I will get a bad grade and I won’t get into college.

You can do more to help your child begin to actually manage their anxious thoughts.  First, help your child identify the emotion they are feeling, then give them permission to feel that emotion. “You look worried about your test tomorrow. It’s okay to feel worried about your test. It shows that it is important to you.

Second, remind your child that you love them and that they are safe because you are here for them. Lastly, help your child change the “what if’s” to “what is”, and write new endings to their worried stories. “Maybe you will not do as well as you would like on your test, but does it really mean you won’t get into college?” Exploring alternative endings helps to move your child away from the inaccurate thoughts toward the facts, and into problem solving.

As much as we’d like to mitigate our children’s challenges, we cannot.  Their trials are their own. However, we can gently guide and support them through their anxious moments.

Trinity Family Counseling Center
45445 Mound Rd, Suite 111 Shelby TwpMI48317 USA 
 • 586-254-3663

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