As a child play therapist, anxiety is one of the most common issues I see. As a parent there is so much you can do to help support your child and teen. Here are a few ideas to get you started... Selina Yeoman x
1. Become more aware.
Our days start quickly, routines happen and we can find our days rapidly deteriorating into stress! Before the day even begins try to hold your child in your mind. Think about them as a person and what's happening in their lives. This "tuning in" with your child before they even wake will greatly help strengthen the parent child relationship making it easier for your child to share their feelings.
2. Anxiety is real to them.
Although we may feel as adults that our children are over reacting to situations, it's important to remember that their brain is still developing as are the skills to rationalise their thoughts. See their issue as important, tell them you care and that you've heard them, offer to work through issues together.
3. A space to talk.
Children and young people do actually want to talk, but they will only talk if they feel they are being listened to and there is space to do it. Older children often like less eye contact so switch off the radio in the kitchen and invite them to help you so a chat can occur naturally. Younger children may wait until bedtime so give yourself extra time so that conversations can happen.
4. Sounding off is OK.
Letting frustrated or anxious feelings out is actually a good thing. It may come out via a stomp up the stairs, slamming a door or a yell at something seemingly unrelated. Recognising that behaviours change under stress and giving your child room to express them, prevents further emotional and physical stress.
Our children will be picking up how to deal with all different types of situations by watching how we behave. Show good ways of dealing with difficulties, model how to rationalise thoughts and try to keep a positive mindset.
6. Have a giggle.
It's important for parents to remember that we can't solve every problem or anxiety that our children have. The quickest and most effective way of increasing how good we feel is through laughter, it lowers the stress hormones in a person's body and leaves them feeling happier and more relaxed. As parents we can choose to connect with our children in playful ways. Switch off the desire to problem solve and instead create a playful atmosphere where you can laugh often and enjoy each other.