Follow these tips to help create a calm atmosphere for anxious (and non-anxious) kids. You might even find that helping them also helps you work through your big emotions.
By Tammi Kirkness, author of The Panic Button Book
When we help our child manage their emotional wellbeing it can actually help us with our own anxieties and big emotions.
This is because helping a child through emotionally sticky times can act as a mirror to how we cope with that issue, too.
“When kids are taught to feel their feelings even if they are ‘bad’ ones, it allows them to bounce back faster, express themselves creatively and learn to practice empathy.”
So as you work through the emotional management journey with your young person, be aware that it may bring some of your own anxieties to the surface.
If this happens, that’s ok. It’s an opportunity for you to heal and process things that may have been buried for a while.
The more you learn to manage your own mental wellbeing, the more you will have in your toolkit to be a safe place to land for your kids.
How to help kids feel safe in their feelings
When kids feel safe to feel their feelings, the emotional charge that accompanies them reduces and they build resilience and tools to thrive in later life.
To promote this, modelling emotional regulation is a great place to start.
Acknowledging unpleasant emotions, talking through them and moving on is key to nurturing their emotional wellbeing.
In the past there was an approach that feelings were a sign of weakness. But thankfully with the wave of understanding around the importance of vulnerability, things have changed.
We now understand that the feelings we suppress are the ones that tend to dominate our lives in adolescence and adulthood.
When kids are taught to feel their feelings even if they are ‘bad’ ones, it allows them to bounce back faster, express themselves creatively and learn to practice empathy.
Emotional wellbeing from an early age
Emotional wellbeing looks at our ability to feel and express emotions in a healthy way.
The earlier that we help kids identify their emotions and create the space to feel them. The better we set them up for success in later life.
Creating well rounded adults that are resilient, courageous, and kind relies on learning to feel our feelings from a young age.
How do I know if my child has anxiety?
Anxious kids worry a lot.
They might get headaches, stomach aches, have trouble sleeping or be a perfectionist. They also might be fidgety, procrastinate, need loads of reassurance, have tight muscles or lose their appetite.
It’s important to note that in some kids it can be really obvious. And in others it might be hidden through a mask of achievement and striving.
Big factors that trigger anxiety in children
Some of the major triggers for anxiety in children are stressful life circumstances, brain chemistry, gut function, genetics and the environment that kids are in.
Tips to help create a calm atmosphere for anxious (and non-anxious) kids:
- Model upbeat, confident thinking.
- Remember that you don’t need to be perfect to help your child.
- Take care of your own emotional wellbeing.
- Do your best to not get emotionally swept up in your child’s feelings.
- When appropriate, share your own examples of making errors. Or times when you’ve felt nervous and how you got through them.
- Aim to have a light and centred approach when talking about feelings.