Parenting an Anxious Child: How Parents Can Teach Coping Skills
When it comes to parenting an anxious child, much of the focus is often on what changes parents can make. While it’s normal to want to do whatever you can to make the right choices for your child, that strategy can really only go so far.
Helping your anxious child requires you to do more than just “fix” everything for them. It also calls for more than simply taking them to a therapist or counselor to fix everything. In fact, a provider’s work is often very limited if parents aren’t willing to get involved and teach their child coping skills.
So, what can you do if you’re parenting a child who is anxious? And how can you set an example and teach them the coping mechanisms they will need to handle their anxiousness?
Support Your Child, Rather Than Avoid Their Fears
As a parent, it’s normal to want to keep your child away from any danger or harm. But anxiety is often fueled by fears that aren’t realistic. While avoiding some triggers isn’t a bad strategy on a short-term basis, it won’t help your child to learn how to cope with their anxiety in the long run.
Instead, you should help your child to implement the right coping strategies. You can talk to their therapist from an adult perspective about what your child is dealing with in order to learn more about which strategies might be the most effective. When everyone works together, you can expect better results.
Build the Right Skills
You can help your child learn how to cope with their anxiety by building your own skills and putting them into practice. Of course, it’s important that you focus on the right skills.
For example, if your child starts to feel anxious, encourage them to slow down. Practice taking deep breaths with them, and show them how to stop and do it on their own without your guidance. Once they’ve started to calm down, you can have a compassionate conversation. Getting to the bottom of what triggers their anxiety can be a big help in teaching them how to cope.
Promote Positive Thoughts
One of the best things you can do when you’re parenting an anxious child is to prepare them for the future. Teaching them how to shift their thinking patterns now will help them to respond better to triggering situations later on in life.
You can do that by reminding them of similar situations in the past and ask them to remember how they got through those tough experiences. You can also talk to them about their triggering fears and have them challenge those thoughts with facts. Many times anxiety is rooted in unrealistic notions. When your child can stop and compare facts with fiction, they can learn to calm themselves down.
Set an Example
Don’t just tell your child how to cope with anxiety. Show them.
If you’re someone that struggles with anxious thoughts, yourself, modeling the right coping skills can make a big difference for your child. They trust you. So, the next time you feel anxiety becoming too overwhelming, hit the pause button, take a few deep breaths, and try to understand where those fears are coming from.
Children are quick to soak up everything you do, so set the right example when it comes to coping with anxiety.
If you want to make sure your parenting skills are teaching your child what they need to cope with anxiety, feel free to contact me. Together, we can make sure we’re all on the same page. When that happens, you can take comfort in knowing you’re not just fixing things for your child. Instead, you’re giving them the tools necessary to manage their anxiety on their own for years to come.