From an imagined monster under the bed to sitting a test at school, there are lots of things kids can worry about.
It’s natural for kids to worry about things at certain times, and some may worry more than others due to their temperament and/or situation. Kids also worry about different things depending on their age and stage in life.
The good news is that parents and caregivers can help kids manage their worries so they have the tools and confidence to deal with any challenges life may throw at them – big or small.
Here are 10 things you can do to help kids manage their worries:
1. Be a good role model
Kids will look to you as their role model for how to deal with worry and stress. You can set a good example by being optimistic and voicing positive thoughts as often as the ones that bother you. Showing them you can bounce back will help them learn to do the same.
2. Create a chat time or a worry box
Set aside a time early in the evening to chat about what’s bothering your child so they aren’t worrying about things in bed. You can also create a worry box for them to put worries into. They write their worries down, fold them up tight and put them in the box so they can be free of them until the morning.
3. Be a good listener
Being a good listener helps your child open up and talk about their feelings. Take casual opportunities, like driving in the car, to ask them how they are to show them you’re available and interested. If they share a worry, don’t lecture or drill them for information, otherwise they may clam up.
4. Offer physical reassurance
Nothing beats a good cuddle when you’re worried. Giving reassurance physically through hugs, back rubs, hand holding or being close can help kids feel better.
5. Use past experience
If your child is worried about something coming up, talk about a similar challenge they’ve overcome in the past and how they got through it.
6. Brainstorm solutions together
Rather than jumping in to fix a situation for your child, try brainstorming solutions together. This teaches them how to problem solve.
7. Keep things in perspective
Keeping things in perspective and seeing the big picture, without minimising your child’s worries, is a helpful tool. Remind them problems are temporary and often solvable and that tomorrow is another day. Sometimes humour can lighten the situation (if appropriate) and help build resilience.
8. Spend time together
Spend quality time with your child every day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes playing with them with their favourite toy. Allow them to see you having fun and enjoying spending time with them.
9. Build self-esteem
Make sure you give your child lots of praise when they do things like trying something new, walking into a new place, managing a new situation, or making a decision.
10. Foster mindfulness
Encourage your child to practice mindfulness, which helps them focus on the present moment, and not dwell on the past or worry about the future.
If you have any ongoing concerns about your child’s level of worrying, please contact your GP or healthcare professional for further advice.
- Managing Worries Sparklers, NZ