What is anxiety and how is it reflected in a child? Lately we hear the word "anxiety" quite often, so let's talk a little about it.
The following article is based on the Mighty Families podcast "¿Cómo ayudar a un niño ansioso? available in Spotify.
Anxiety is uncertainty plus the inability to deal with what is to come, the combination of the two creates anxiety.
We created this formula to understand it better:
UNCERTAINTY + INABILITY TO DEAL WITH THE FUTURE= ANXIETY
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry about various activities and events that are present during the day.
What do I do as a parent?
Empathize. Get into that emotion with your child, most of the time the children have the same concerns as the parents. Ask him what is going on? Why do you feel that way? Tell me more. Empathize with them.
Name the emotion that is below the anxiety. It is neurologically proven that when you name an emotion, it moves to another category, gives you space to climb into your logical mind and you are no longer in survival mode.
We must communicate anxiety. When you talk about their anxiety, they begin to understand it and are therefore more confident.
School related example: Kid doesn’t want to go to school.
FIRST STEP: Empathize: sometimes I don’t like going to work. Sometimes I even feel nervous. What are you feeling? Do you know? When you think about school what do you feel? Are there things you don’t like etc.
SECOND STEP: Name the feeling: Oh, you feel afraid because you will be away from mom and dad. That is so hard! Being afraid is so hard. (name it) empathize with it - Sometimes I’m afraid of…. and share a fear of yours with your child. helping them normalize an emotion takes the overwhelm out of it.
THIRD STEP: Talk about it and prepare them for how it’s going to feel. “You’re probably going to cry when we get to school today. You may cry because you feel afraid. But mommy will come back and pick you up. You will be safe with your teacher and I will always come back for you. Being afraid is hard, and school can be fun even though we’re afraid getting out of the car.”