Is your child overwhelmed by anxiety, fear, or worry? Unfortunately, kids don’t always tell us what’s bothering them. So it’s often up to parents to figure out how to help kids share and overcome their fears. Today I’m sharing through the Focus On The Family blog to help you support your child through anxiety, fear, or worry.
IS YOUR CHILD OVERWHELMED BY ANXIETY, FEAR, OR WORRY?
“MOM, I DON’T WANT YOU TO DIE.” My 10-year-old son touched my arm to get my attention. I had been on the phone with my sister-in-law talking about wills. Not realizing my child overheard our conversation and anxiety crept in.
Turning to him, I said, “I know that’s an incredibly scary thought. And I’m sorry you overheard that conversation. While I can’t promise that could never happen, I want you to know that losing a parent while you’re still a kid is really rare. Although if it did happen, who could help you with it?”
He thought a moment. “God.” “How could He help you?” “He would be there. And, he would listen to me pray. He would know I would be sad.”
Because my son spoke up about something that frightened him, we could begin to address and defuse his fear. Maybe you have questions about your own children and their anxiety or fear. Questions like: Are they overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, or worry?
Find What’s Wrong
Unfortunately, kids don’t always tell us what’s bothering them. Their behavior or body language might give us clues—like fighting, fleeing or freezing up. But it’s often up to parents to figure out how to help kids share and overcome their fears.
And it’s so important that we do. When fears take root, they can evolve into anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. As parents, we long to provide love and support to our child struggling with anxiety. But when one of our children is suffering, we can find ourselves feeling lost without a map to help us navigate the problem.
As a counselor, I direct parents to ways they can help their kids open up and overcome their fears. Here’s how you can move in this direction:
Ask Non-Threatening Questions
When my daughter, then 7, landed a small role in a community performance, she was really excited. But as we drove home together after the first performance, I looked at her face and could tell something was wrong. My guess was that she was disappointed that no one in the audience had come up to her after the show to ask her to sign their program.
I asked, “Is there anything you wished were different tonight?”
She looked at her hands. “No one came up and talked to me after the show.”
First, I let her tell me the problem, even though I had correctly guessed it. I said, “I can see how that would be disappointing because of all the times you’ve gone to shows and have asked actors to sign your program.” At the root of her disappointment was the fear that she was invisible, that no one saw her. That’s a dangerous lie. But I could easily have missed it.
Forcing kids to talk when they aren’t in the right frame of mind rarely gets the right results. But when we ask simple, nonthreatening questions, we can . . .
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