Parenting An Anxious ChildMay 18, 2021
“Understand that the goal here is not to extinguish the flame of anxiety, but instead to lead your child through or around the fire. I'm going to end with this quote again by Dr. Deborah MacNamara: Fear is not a problem to get rid of. Rather, it is a way of moving us forward to caution, to tears or to courage.”
This week on the 3D Parent Podcast, we will be delving into the concept of anxiety including its root causes, neurological processes, and possible symptoms. I will also provide some insights on what to avoid when dealing with an anxious child as well as tips and tricks to help guide your child during their alarm state.
We will go over topics such as:
- Making sense of what anxiety is all about and how it works.
- Identifying common root causes of anxiety in children.
- 4 things to avoid in order to avoid worsening your child’s anxiety.
- 12 tips and tricks to help you parent your anxious child.
I hope that these tips will help you make sense of what anxiety is all about. While anxiety is a universal feeling, remember that there are ways you can explore to ease your child’s anxiety. Lastly, take note of the things that you should probably steer clear of to avoid worsening your child’s state of alarm. Remember that when parenting an anxious child, the goal is to help cope with anxiety and not to completely eradicate it.
Things You Will Learn
[00:07] In today’s episode, I’m going to talk about one of the most common problems that I help parents within my practice, which is parenting an anxious child.
[01:37] Anxiety is a universal human experience. It’s also one of the most commonly diagnosed health conditions for both adults and children. The World Health Organization even identified anxiety as one of the leading health concerns all around the globe. In this episode, I will help you, the parent, make sense of what anxiety is all about, it’s common symptoms and roots, and it’s neurological processes.
[05:28] Parenting an anxious child can be exhausting and frustrating at times. However, parents must avoid being alarmed in the face of their child’s anxiety as this could worsen the fear and anxiety that your child is feeling and eventually become a vicious cycle. What we could do as an alternative is to uncover the root cause of our child’s anxiety.
[09:11] Once we identified the root cause of our child’s anxiety, it is important to remember not to fall into traps of alarm-based discipline techniques as this could further feed your child’s anxiety, and worse, instigate the development of anxiety disorder in your child. [To learn more about alternative discipline techniques, listen to Episode 4: Discipline with Dignity.]
[12:23] Before I offer some tips and suggestions, I will discuss first the four things that parents should avoid when parenting an anxious child.
[12:49] Don’t try to reason with your child on what causes their anxiety during their episode, it will not help and it is not necessary.
[13:09] Avoid asking too many questions as this can further alarm your kids.
[13:27] Stop all the fear-based discipline techniques such as yelling, threatening, corporal punishments, etc.
[13:59] Do not convey your anxiety in front of your children especially when your child is already feeling anxious. As much as possible, find help and figure out strategies so you can cope with your anxiety without your child picking upon them.
[14:51] Now that you know what to avoid when parenting an anxious child, here are some pointers to help you help your child cope with their anxiety.
[14:56] Instill a sense of confidence to your child that you know how to take care of them. Make them feel that you are in the state of complete control and confidence so that energy can hopefully radiate to them too.
[15:45] Also, avoid any separation as much as possible. Remember that the number one cause of the anxiety for children is separation from parents and caretakers. Depending on the level of your children’s anxiety, you may need to prepare yourself to make some bold choices for your child’s welfare. However, I understand that some separations are unavoidable. On that note, know that there are ways you can explore to bridge that separation.
[23:03] Another thing that can help ease a child's anxiety is for their parents to take the lead in terms of decision making. Avoid asking lots of questions because it actually puts the children into the spot and subtly makes them in-charge. So as much as possible, step-up in the decision-making department as you should.
[26:12] Help your child find their tears. Similar to the logic behind physical activities, these emotional releases can also help relieve some of the built-up frustration energy that oftentimes can cause alarm and anxiety.
[34:08] For my final tip: accept your child’s alarm. Contrary to popular belief, acceptance is not a form of defeat in this matter. Accepting your child’s anxiety means that you are genuinely recognizing their feelings instead of downplaying it.
Quotes From Episode 50
“Understanding the root causes of alarm is what can guide us and help us make decisions to get our children out of the state of chronic alarm.”
“If you are someone who struggles with anxiety or has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, it can be challenging to be able to keep that in check when dealing with your own child's anxiety. So get yourself help and figure out strategies to help you cope so your child doesn't pick up on that.”
“If you have a highly anxious child, do more of the decision making for your children.”
“Normalizing the feeling of alarm can help your child ease anxiety.”
“Helping your child identify their mixed feelings is a big piece of helping a child work through their anxiety and alarm.”
“Fear is not a problem to get rid of. Rather, it is a way of moving us forward to caution, to tears, or courage.”
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