Parents see anxiety in their children more intensely than anyone else. Our children are with us the majority of the time and they look to parents to help them feel better. Sometimes worries are so big that loving words and hugs aren’t enough. If you are among the many parents who feel helpless and frustrated, then you can benefit from my top tips on how to calm a worried child.
Parents don’t always have the answers immediately.
If you are like me, you don’t have time to read the five books friends and family have suggested to guide you in this quest to comfort your child. For this reason I created my list of the top 5 most favorite coping strategies on how to calm a worried child.
5 ways to calm down a worried child and feel like a boss
Do things your child typically enjoys. Watch funny youtube videos or their
favorite show. The family can take a walk together or play a game. You can have your child help you prepare dinner.
Ask your child to think of the worst thing they could ever imagine. Tell them this would be rated a 10 on a worry scale. Having absolutely no worries in the world would be a 1. Now discuss what number they would rate their current worry. Make a game of this and pick random funny things like, “What would your worry be if you opened the front door and saw a unicorn?”
3. Worry Box
Many kids love having a craft project. In this activity kids could decorate a box with a slit cut into the top big enough to put in a folded piece of paper. When the child feels worried they can draw a picture or write their worry then put it into the box. This symbolizes giving the worry away or allowing the box to “hold” the worry for them until they want to take it back. Usually they don’t go back to retrieve it. Don’t worry if they take it out though. Just remind them that they can return it to the box if the worry becomes too big. I recommend this strategy for children who continuously talk about worries throughout the day. This assists them to compartmentalize worries so they can clear their mind and enjoy being a kid.
4. Worry time
Pick one, maybe two consistent times a day to meet with your child to allow them to talk about their worries. I would not allow this time to last longer than 5 minutes. You can even use a timer if that is helpful. If they approach you at other times of the day, remind them to save it for worry time.
5. Destroy it
This tends to be the all time favorite strategy of the kids I have treated in my practice over the years. Kids can write or draw their worries. Then, when they are ready, they can stomp on it, rip it, or shred it in a shredder. Allow your child to really get into this and use their creativity. They may even decide to pretend to be a dinosaur. I have seen it all!
It is easy for others to judge but trust me it isn’t easy to calm a child that worries excessively. If it was, I would be out of a job. Take three slow deep breaths to center yourself and remind yourself that you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t a good parent.
If these strategies don’t help or if the worries become increasingly worse, you may want to consult with a local child therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders, like myself. You can book a free 15 minute telephone consultation with me by clicking here. Counseling can arm you and your child with a lifetime of tools to cope with other problems in the future.