Helping Your Child Cope with Stress or Anxiety
(How to do it…and why it can be so hard!)
Hi, Practice families!
A few months ago, I wrote about the recent study from Yale University suggesting that working with parents of anxious kids was equally as effective as working with kids directly… and what those findings imply about the power that we have to shape our kids’ emotional experience, and to support their growth and skill development through the modeling we do and the scaffolding we provide.
As a parent myself, I have found it fascinating that the ways in which we (myself included!) automatically respond to our kids when they are worried, stressed, or anxious can unfortunately be counterproductive, despite coming from a place of genuine caring and concern. Let’s face it; we love our kids, and because we love them, we want to spare them hardship and alleviate their distress.
But approaching our interactions with our children through the lens of short-term distress reduction doesn’t necessarily do them any favors. Indeed, we can accidentally feed our kids’ anxiety by providing too much reassurance or too much protection in the face of challenge or stress. Ideally, we want to teach our children skills that will help them cope independently with worry… and that means letting them experience distress, difficult as that may be (for our kids and for us!).
I was at Peabody Elementary School last Friday, basically having this same conversation with a group of parents. One mother came up to me after the group, and said, “More and more, I realize that it’s not about changing my kid– it’s about working on and changing myself.”
We have greatest control over what we ourselves are bringing to the table. And we can serve our kids best when we are able to parent from a place of intention– being mindful of our long-term goals for our children’s development– rather than parenting from a place of reaction.
You can download our best tips and tricks for helping your child or teen cope with stress or anxiety here. And remember– we work with kids, teens, and parents to build these skills– so reach out to us if you have questions or are interested in individual or small group support as you work to put our tips into practice. I will be launching a weekly education and support group for parents of anxious school-aged kids and teens beginning in January– so if this would be of interest to you, please share your thoughts here!
P.S., Make sure to open next week’s newsletter for a list of all of my favorite books, websites, and apps for anxious kids, teens, and parents!
P.P.S., Short on links this week because I’m still playing catch-up after last week’s power outage. But here are a few good, related reads.
- 10 reasons teens have so much anxiety today (Psychology Today). Please note: these aren’t just applicable to teens!
- Five ways to help teens build a sense of self-worth (Mindful). Again– not just applicable to teens.
- How to help your kids feel loved (Greater Good Magazine)
- Support after an emergency (Sesame Street). If you have small children and lost power, check out the Elmo video. And they have great tip sheets for supporting little kids through a variety of emergencies.
- 15 great yoga poses for kids (Mother Mag). Read this, then sign your little one up for yoga with us (below!).