Helping kids with anxiety is so important for any parent.
Anxiety impacts so many of our youth and, for adults, it’s considered the number one “mental illness.”
However, if you’ve heard our masterclass interview with Jodi Aman on her book “You 1 Anxiety 0”, it doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact, there’s an easy way you can help kids address their anxiety.
One Easy Way of Helping Kids With Anxiety
Basically, the idea behind this approach is that you do the thing you’re most scared of.
So if you’re afraid of public speaking, you start speaking in public (even in front of just a handful of people) on a regular basis.
Once you’re familiar with something, you’re not going to be as afraid of it (although I do realize this can be a little trickier if your fear is flying… it may be impossible to get your teen on a plane regularly).
After facing your fear head on and doing it frequently, the fear will go down, because it’s the unknown that we’re so afraid of.
While I realize that facing your fear directly may be easier said than done, but you may want to suggest that your child start with baby steps. What can he or she do that would help him or her ease into that fear?
For example, if public speaking was the fear, maybe start in front of the family or extended family. Then maybe find a public speaking group and practice in front of just a very small group. Ease into the thing that you’re so afraid of until the fear is gone (or at least lessened).
Now, I realize this isn’t gong to be appropriate for every kid.
So it’s up to you, Mom and Dad, to decide if your child is ready for exposure therapy.
How to Help a Child with Anxiety about School
Now that we’ve shared just one of the fifteen ways of helping kids with anxiety, let’s tackle a big one for many kids.
School anxiety is at an all-time high, whether it’s going to first grade or whether your child’s a senior in High School.
If your child is struggling with anxiety around school, start by reminding her that she’s not alone. Anxiety is very isolating and it’s easy to think you’re the ONLY one who has this problem. With school anxiety, in particular, a LOT of kids have this anxiety. Your child is NOT alone in this.
Next, try unpacking the problem.
What is he/she really afraid of happening?
For example, if she is afraid of walking into the class and having people laugh at her, ask if that scenario has ever happened before. Ask what would be the worst thing that happened if people DID laugh. And what would they be laughing at exactly?
Unpack the problem until your kids behind to see that it’s anxiety that’s telling them lies and not actually themselves.
Another thing that can help is visualization.
Walk your child through the process of getting on the bus and going to school, visualizing every step. Where do they sit on the bus? Who do they see? Who do they talk to?
Walking through each baby step can help them be less fearful of the actual event. And breaking it down into baby steps (like getting on the bus) can make the big event less intimidating.
Final Thoughts on Helping Kids with Anxiety
If you think your kids are ready, exposure therapy can be extremely effective for helping your kids manage anxiety, since it takes away the mystery around the fear. The more frequently they’re exposed to that thing, the less likely they will be to fear it.
If your child is struggling with fear around attending school, in particular, there are three steps you can take to help him or her manage that anxiety:
- Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone – a LOT of kids struggle with this fear
- Unpack the problem: what is he or she ACTUALLY afraid of happening
- Use visualization to break the act of going to school into baby steps
Let us know if these tips help! Or if you’ve tried something else that’s worked well for your kids. Leave us a comment below.