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Helping kids cope with concern

PensiveExperiencing fear and worry from time to time is normal for adults and children alike and different personality traits cause some kids worry more than others. Teaching kids to cope with their concerns is a valuable lesson that can increase their confidence and sense of optimism.

The soon approaching school year is a great time to practice coping techniques because it often triggers worry in students, as they consider a variety of unknown factors, such as:

  • Will I like my teacher?
  • Will I know anyone in my class?
  • How will I find my way from class to class?
  • What if I can’t remember my locker combination?
  • Am I ready for the upcoming grade?

The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to turn your child’s negative feelings into positive perceptions. Here are some tips to help them cope with their concerns:

Listen patiently

This seems easy enough, when your child wants to talk about her troubles just listen, however you may find that can be easier said than done…As parents our natural response is to jump in and fix the problem instead of listening to our child’s feelings. Adults tend to think quite logically, however a child’s thought process can be more abstract. Often just discussing their worries out loud can help children work through their emotions and provide reassurance.

Teach problem solving skills

Encourage your child to look for solutions, rather than telling your child what to do. After listening to their concerns, try asking questions that make them think it through.

  • What do you think you should do about that?
  • What would make you feel better about that?
  • What’s something you could try?

Asking questions like these empowers kids to find the answers to their problems themselves. Additionally, kids are more likely to change their behavior and attitude when they come up with their own solutions versus being told what to do.

The power of distraction

You’ve heard the saying, “don’t turn a mole hill into a mountain”. Dwelling on a concern makes it easy for kids to blow things out of proportion. Providing reassurance is good, but then move on to a new topic or activity. Taking a break from worrisome thoughts will help to dissipate anxiety.

Keep calm and carry on

Remember that you are the most important role model in your child’s life. Children key into adult’s emotions, so if you are frequently stressed and tense you may unintentionally increase your child’s anxiety. It may not always be easy, but taking a calm and controlled approach to stressful situations can have a huge effect on your child’s mindset.