Addressing Anxiety

One of the most delightful and equally annoying traits young children have is their utter fearlessness.

I've got this!

I’ve got this!

Me too!!

Me too!!

They are the untouchables! They are immortal! Nothing embarasses or fazes them.

Delightful to watch when you are in the mood, annoying as all hell when they are too busy being ‘titanium’ to do as you have asked!

Frustrating as I find the ‘I not do that’s’ and the ‘I can do that’s’, toddlers’ utter belief in themselves is far preferable to the anxiety that begins to creep in at school age. My eldest has displayed a few anxious moments since she started school. Nothing to set off alarm bells so far, but enough for me to be to be aware of it. She swings from total confidence to anxious despair within a few hours. For example, yesterday she was channeling The Queen of Sheba as she modelled her communion dress for Granny, but then an hour or so later she blurts out ‘Mum, I am really nervous about my communion!’

Now, I know this isn’t exactly a display of crippling anxiety, and could be viewed as a comment to brush off. There is a very fine line between over-parenting and under-parenting, and one that we are all most likely going to cross as we try to steer our babies through their childhood. I would definitely have a tendency to expect my children to get up, dust themselves off and move on. That said, one of the things I have learnt over my years in childhood education is to deal with anxiety as soon as it raises its ugly head. I would rather err on the side of over-parenting when it comes to any anxious comments my children make.

When children vocalise something they are anxious about, they are seeking reassurance that you (a) understand them and (b) know what to do next. So here is my tuppence worth for dealing with anxiety.

  1. Get them talking: Give them the chance to have a chat with you or if they don’t want to talk to you, encourage them to talk to a favorite relation. A problem shared is definitely a problem halved.
  2. Don’t dismiss it, rather look at it from their point of view: So rather than me saying ‘Sure you have no need to worry about your communion’ because of course I know that she will get on absolutely fine, I said ‘oh, I remember being nervous about my communion too, I thought I was the only one who was going to wear a long dress! What are you worried about?’ She couldn’t articulate exactly what was worrying her, but she understood that I ‘got it’!
  3. Make a plan together: Break the issue down to its individual parts and work together to figure out a plan of action. Our plan was to practice her prayers together and have a good few test runs in her dress so that when the day came she would be comfortable. I came up with the prayers and she suggested that she was just not used to her dress. Everything is easier with a plan and you are also giving them the tools to deal with future problems themselves.
  4. Rally them: Rather than brushing it aside and forgetting about it, focus on the positive outcome you are hoping to achieve. I tried to ‘normalise’ her communion by talking about communions in general. I made a few off-hand comments about how much I enjoyed my communion. I told her how her Aunty donned her communion dress anytime we went anywhere the summer she made her communion, in the hope she would charm some ‘donations’ from passers-by. 😉 I asked her what she is most looking forward to about her communion and focussed on that.

Making a plan!

Although this example is only dealing with very minor levels of anxiety, it is just as effective for more serious issues. Tackling anxiety head on, showing you understand and can see things from their perspective and keeping communication and positivity alive will help your child through inevitable anxious moments. However, if you feel like you are getting nowhere, and the situation is not improving, then taking them to talk to a child counsellor is definitely a step to consider.

Have you had to deal with any anxious moments yet? What did you do? Please share in comments below!

Thanks for reading



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Irish Parenting Bloggers | Addressing Anxiety
  2. lookingforbluesky
    Mar 01, 2015 @ 10:25:35

    I’m now dealing with extreme anxiety here, but in younger years this advice would’ve been very useful x


  3. BabySteps
    Mar 01, 2015 @ 12:36:11

    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. Sorry to hear that you are going through this. We do live in such an anxious society that it is easy to see how our children can end up suffering . Also impossible to always be ‘on it’ when it comes to our children, but with all things where possible, prevention is better than the cure.


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