Dr. Tamar Chansky - What are some tips for parenting an anxious child?

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When our children are anxious, we may be tempted to go in and just tell them that everything's Okay and reassure them and the problem with that is that kids are going to be depending on us for that reassurance, but the other thing is we may not know what they are worrying about.

So when you are trying to help your anxious child, the first thing to do is to find out what are they worrying about, you might guess but you might guess wrong. All children worry about different kinds of things. A way to frame that question is to say, what's your worry telling you about this? Once you find out what the answers are, then you can go in and help your child to fill in missing information or correct distortions about things, once your child has a different view of the situation that they are afraid about, they maybe more willing to do the next step which is to approach that situation one small step at a time.

So let's say your child comes home and says that they have to do a book report tomorrow and they are really nervous about it. First thing is to find out what they are picturing is going to happen, so again asking them, what's your worry telling you? What are you picturing is going to happen? And hear from your child the thoughts that they have that are making them feel really scared.

Then walk through with them and talk about how they could look at the story from the other side, the positive side, and ask them what they really think is going to happen. They may tell a really different story at that point. The second step though, is practicing with your child, really helping them to have the opportunity to see that they can confidently handle that situation.

Make it fun, see if you can throw in some fun ideas or putting happy faces on the book report when they're reading it, so that they know that they can stay calm and relaxed and that's how they're going to do a great job.