Children often look to their parents for reassurance and guidance. Because young children might still be learning how to cope with new or stressful situations, it’s important for parents to set the tone for what is healthy and appropriate. As a parent, helping your child deal with stress is key.
We’ve shared different effective parenting skills, including ways you can support your child's mental health, as well as valuable coping skills that can help them deal with everyday stress. But, as with all habits, these skills take time and patience to develop.
So what can you do when your child is feeling anxious or stressed? Often words of encouragement, guidance, or comfort can be the best remedy. Here are five things you can say to your child when he/she is experiencing anxiety or panic.
I am here for you, and you are safe.
If your child struggles with anxiety or panic attacks, reassuring them that they are safe and not alone can help.
Tell me about your worry.
Allow your child to be honest about what he/she is feeling. Putting words to his/her emotions can make what they are worrying about seem less scary and more manageable.
I am going to take a deep breath. Would you like to take one with me?
Model coping skills for your child and invite them to join you. If they’re having difficulty trying to find a calming activity or technique, you can show them how you would cope in a stressful situation. Try taking a deep breath or finding a quiet space to calm down.
Can you draw a picture of how you feel?
If your child has difficulty verbalizing his/her feelings, it might be helpful to let them express themselves through coloring, painting, or drawing instead. When they are done, you can ask them about what they made. For example, you could say, “Tell me why you used the color green,” to dig a little deeper into what they may be feeling.
This is scary, and… or This is scary, but...
Once you have identified your child’s feelings, encourage them to think about ways they have already overcome feelings like this in the past. You could say, “This is scary, but you are safe here,” or “This is scary, and you’ve overcome this fear before.”
Practice patience as your little one tries to make sense of his/her world and feelings. Coping skills and healthy habits take time to develop, but knowing that you are there to support them can help when their feelings get to be too much.
If your child is showing symptoms of anxiety, consider seeing a therapist. Therapy is beneficial at any age and can give you the tools you need to cope with stressful situations. You might also consider attending Active Parenting Now© classes which can teach you effective parenting skills. We offer classes at our counseling center in Kissimmee.
If you’re interested in speaking with a therapist, you can contact our counseling centers at the following locations:
Counseling Centers in Tennessee
TTHI Counseling Center Chattanooga