One of the greatest challenges that parents with anxious children talk to me about is managing the negativity that surrounds anxiety. The overly anxious brain is on alert for bad things, it sees risk and demise at every turn. Our job as caregivers is to actively help children re-wire that easily activated worry circuit. There are many ways that we practice this every day like recognizing the anxiety as the "the worry bully" that it is and daily mindfulness and relaxation to calm the body and mind. We also actively prompt children to consider new ways of looking at things, turning their minds to the good around them. Gratitude and intentional acts of kindness are fast antidotes to anxiety and guaranteed to flood our bodies with positive feelings. This is a key element in anxiety treatment and teaches children that they are in control of their worry bully, it does not control them!
Parents of children with anxiety have the opportunity to make intentional choices to increase positivity and wellness every day. When you focus on setting these intentions you will notice little gems of ideas all around you. Here's one I came across today, a daily action calendar for the month of February that focuses on kindness and relationships. Print it out and hang up in a prominent place at home. Each day look at the goal with your child and talk about how each of you will accomplish it. I guarantee this will let the air out of the negativity balloon and fill it with happiness and hopefulness.
Jennifer Tsappis, LICSW