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3 Common Strategies for Anxiety that Simply Don’t Work

Drop even one and begin to empower your child to gain control over their anxiety.

Stop Minimizing Anxiety

It’s important to avoid phrases, such as “calm down,” “It’s all in your head,” or “don’t worry about it.”  These phrases are designed to support, but actually can exacerbate anxiety because your child may begin to feel everything more intensely as they try to convince you that you don’t understand how they are feeling.  

Stop Providing Excessive Reassurance

We all love to hear things will be OK and there is nothing to worry about. Reassurance can become unhelpful when it becomes excessive. Excessive reassurance can unintentionally validate that there is something children need to be worried about.  If their parents are reassuring them about something, children can jump to the conclusion that they are right to be worried and their parents are trying to encourage them to be brave in a scary situation. Of course this can be helpful in some situations but when there are known triggers to anxiety, such as trying a new activity, excessive reassurance can validate that they should be worried about trying that new activity.  Children will also have missed the opportunity to grow their own confidence and will learn to look to their parents before moving forward with an idea or a plan.  

 

Stop Protecting or Overprotecting

When there is a stressor, protective behavior is a natural instinct for being a loving and supportive parent.  You want to make your children’s lives as pleasant as possible. Protective behavior might include supporting avoidance, removing obstacles to achievement, or changing plans to accommodate the child’s anxiety. Sometimes this is exactly what is needed, but when it happens too often and too unnecessarily, it can get in the way of children discovering their own courage, strength and resilience. The more your child practices strategies for facing stressors, the less power the anxiety will have over him or her.    

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