Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy
- a blog for parents -
WHAT DOES ANXIETY NEED?
So you've acknowledged your child's anxious feelings. You've stayed calm so you could stay with them in their feelings - which means you've agreed, in principal, that feeling anxious is a yucky way to feel and of course, you understand that they would feel anxious in that situation.
But then what? What does your child's anxiety need from you?
In a nutshell, it needs to be challenged.
Challenging anxiety means that your child needs you to help them walk up to it, into it and through it. Remember, "anxiety" is not about a REAL threat to their safety. It's a "perceived" threat. Your child needs you to help them slay the anxiety dragon by doing whatever it is they feel anxious about. As slowly and carefully as they need, and as boldly and bravely as you can manage.
Small steps (as slowly and carefully as they need) are more effective than big ones - remember, we climb stairs, ladders and mountains one step at a time, so go slowly. But not so slowly that you communicate that there really is something to fear (go as boldly and bravely as you can manage).
They're anxious about delivering a presentation to the class? Acknowledge that it will feel hard AND, be confident in conveying that they will get through it. And make a plan to talk about other parts of their day - recess or art class - at the end of the day.
Anxious about the first day at a new school? Have a plan for a hug or high 5 at drop off, convey confidence that they will get through the day, and commit to doing something fun together at the end of the school day.
Anxious feelings beg to be defeated. How can you help your child slay their anxious dragons?