We are our children’s first and most important models. We may never be able to break the genetic predisposition of anxiety in some children, but what we can do is help provide a supportive environment and parent in a way that our kids learn how to recognize and handle their anxiety. We can equip them with tools they need to be resilient. Here are several ways to do just that.
1) Use Your Environment
While biology sets some limits on your child’s response, remember that they are still very much a product of the environment. What you do every day matters more than what your mother did when you were young. There are five main things parents can do to help children thrive!
- Talk in an age-appropriate way about your anxiety with your kids, don’t over or undershare!
- Don’t force children into situations that take them TOO far outside of their comfort zones.
- Show affection for others as a way to teach empathy and self-control.
- Cultivate an attitude of curiosity and excitement rather than fear.
- Help prepare them for what is coming next by communicating proactively
2) Practice Emotional Honesty
Emotional honesty is a great way to teach your children how to deal with their emotions in constructive ways. Instead of encouraging your child to bury his feelings, use emotional honesty as a tool to encourage him or her not only to recognize and own their emotions but also to express them in healthy, supportive ways. For example, if you learned growing up that it’s okay for men and women alike to cry—tell your kids about times when you allowed yourself and others around you to cry. Be sure to emphasize how important being honest was at those times so they get an idea of how valuable open communication can be.
3) Be Mindful of Tone
Parents sometimes forget that it’s not just what you say but how you say it. Children are more likely to be anxious if they perceive their parents’ anxiety as being a direct result of something they did wrong. On the other hand, children are more likely to develop resilience if they perceive their parents’ fear as due primarily to external factors, which can be managed and handled. Try your best to say positive things about your child (if any) and speak in a positive tone.
4) Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a way for parents to find more opportunities to connect with their children. Active listening means making sure you’re an attentive and empathetic listener, whether you’re on a call or catching up with your son or daughter over dinner. Practice paraphrasing what they say instead of talking over them: So you think [name that band] has one-hit wonder written all over it? That seems like a pretty strong opinion. This lets your child know you value her opinion and didn’t just tune out as soon as she finished speaking. If you’re not sure how an adolescent feels about something, ask them instead of assuming.
5) Encourage Healthy Risks
Anxiety begets anxiety; it’s essential for children and adults alike that they learn how to deal with their fears. That being said, make sure you avoid inducing irrational fears in your children – always talk to them about real dangers. If there’s something your child should be concerned about, discuss it with them in a practical and not sensationalized way. Sensationalism breeds paranoia and exaggeration; discussing threats honestly without over-selling them can make a big difference in terms of how safe a child feels in his or her surroundings and ultimately can influence their development into an adult.
Though parents can’t entirely control their children’s environment, they do have some degree of influence over it. Be a good example by lowering your stress levels, getting help when you need it, and seeking social support. Model healthy coping strategies so your kids can learn from you that anxiety isn’t all bad—it simply means we care about something but you can help empower them with tools to thrive!
If you are interested in finding more about online therapy, holistic treatments including mindfulness, deep breathing, medication and medication management in Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Nebraska and Minnesota, please follow these three simple steps.
- Call (347) 830 7720, click client portal on the top left side or hit the book now button to get in touch with Thriving Lane. Our staff will do a free 10-minute consultation to see how we can help.
- Connect with us through our newsletter and online content to help improve your mental health even if you aren’t ready for teletherapy, telemedicine, or telecounseling.
- Begin the journey to finding your inner peace and achieving your highest potential!
In addition to online therapy for transitions in life, Thriving Lane offers a variety of mental health services to the locations below. These include individual counseling for women, anxiety counseling, depression treatment, counseling for expectant and new mothers, and counseling to help process trauma. Please note, due to licensing laws, our providers are only able to deliver services in the states they are currently licensed in which include Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Nebraska, and Minnesota, with more to come. Contact us today.