Don’t concern yourself about keeping up with the Joneses.
Embrace your child’s unique identity! Make sure they understand that you accept them for who they are and they feel unconditionally loved by you. Every child has their own unique strengths, gifts, and talents. Don’t even think about wanting your child to be “just like everyone else”. The minute you feel your thoughts drifting into saying “why can’t he be like (whomever),” stop yourself immediately and tell yourself, “I love him and all of his unique ways!”
The moment you convey the attitude, “Just suck it up and get in there!” your child will shut down.
Instead, it's far better to say, “I know it’s difficult and tough, but you can do it and I’m going to help you all the way!” Talk to the school ahead of time and let them know your child is anxious and needs support. They can meet your child at the car or at the school door, show them around, introduce them to others, and tell them what to expect. Have special toys they carry with them, use a bracelet with inspirational words, or a meditation app, listen to music, or carpool with a friend. Keep trying new things to help them feel less anxious and reassure them you are there to help.
Don’t feel like anxiety is something you can’t share with others.
You and your child need support, and you will be surprised at just how many others are struggling with similar concerns once you talk about it. Reach out to your friends and encourage your child to do the same! After all, that's what friends are for.
Your child picks up on your anxiety -for sure.
Children with anxiety can be very sensitive to the emotions of others and will tune in to how you and other family members are feeling. Do whatever it takes to deal with your own and family members’ anxiety, so progress will happen more quickly. It is never fair nor constructive to isolate one family member and point the finger at them as “the problem.” Each member of a family should identify areas they want to improve, set attainable goals, and make an effort to change.
This can be a surprising and effective way to deal with stress, and brings all manner of other benefits, like better sleeping and calmer conversations.
Have your child start and end each day with 5 minutes of meditation by listening to music or a meditation app, sitting quietly and focusing on their breathing. Why not have them join a yoga class or watch yoga videos, and practice at least three times a week. These mindfulness practices will teach them to focus on the present moment and calm their anxious thoughts.
When anxiety strikes, your child is likely to imagine the very worst case scenario of future events and new situations.
Help them by letting them know specifics. If they are going to camp, research the area, the accommodation, activities planned, menu, and the number of leaders and campers. Find pictures of places they are planning to attend and let them ask plenty of questions. Discuss details, answer questions, practice, and plan. So much fear lies in the unknown, so try to minimize it.
Children with anxiety can change the world if they are taught strategies to help them overcome their anxious minds!
As frustrating as it can be to have an anxious child, your job and joy is to walk alongside them in their life journey. Many in our society encourage everyone to fall in line and behave just like everyone else. Well, your child is extraordinary - as is every child. Guide and encourage them on their own path of individuality!
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