The anxious child sees the world as dangerous
They will often interpret very innocent events as an example of danger. Then, the anxious child will avoid things they fear. This maintains the anxiety, because they will not learn what they fear is usually not true.
Parents believe anxiety is simply a part of their child’s personality
As a physician, parents often ask me about their child’s personality development. How do you know if the child is anxious ? Is the child’s behavior in certain situations normal. Often, parents do not realize how much the anxiety is affecting the child. An anxious child may find it difficult to meet new children, and will have a limited number of friends. Anxiety also affects academic work, because worry stops them from approaching tasks with confidence.
Learning to think realistically
To master anxiety, we must learn to think like detectives. This is true for any person, adult or child. This is a complex strategy, even for adults. First, a parent must think realistically about personal anxieties. Then, you will be able to teach a simplified version to your child.
People who are stressed or worried often overestimate how likely it is that bad events will occur. In reality, it is very unlikely that something terrible is going to happen. Overestimating serves to intensify anxiety, especially for a child.
Anxious people believe that if something unpleasant happens, the consequences will be absolutely catastrophic. They never ask themselves the question, “What’s the worse thing that could happen, and could I cope with it?”
Thinking like a detective
Teach your child to ask, “What bad thing am I expecting?” Then, have your child think of similar past experiences where something terrible did not occur. It is important for the parent to practice realistic thinking , along with your child.
Excessive reassurance and attention is harmful
Parents may react to anxious child in an overly protective way. Reassurance is a form of positive attention to a child. This means you are actually rewarding your child’s anxiety. Teach a child to come up with answers themselves, rather than always expecting you to do it for them.
Looking for other helpful parenting tips, see this article we published recently.