Raising an anxious child is hard but being an anxious child is even harder. Anxious people often fear the unknown and things which are beyond their control so being anxious and being a child is a recipe for disaster.
The average child is awake for 6000 hours a year and at school for just 1000 of them. This means that there are 5000 hours of free time a year which could be being used to help your child overcome their anxious thoughts.
When it comes to mental health the most important thing to do is to show your child that you are listening and that you support them and this list of phrases to calm an anxious child is the perfect place to begin to understand some new ways in which you can do that.
1. What can I do to help?
Often straight forward and practical responses can help your child to see that there is a way out of how they are feeling and that you are willing to help them to feel better.
2. Can you think of a calming strategy that we could use now?
This question puts the power back in the hands of the child and allows them to reflect upon ways that they can cope with the situation.
3. You are very brave
This shows understanding of how hard the situation is and that you recognise how well they are dealing with it.
4. Do you want to talk about it?
Sometimes assuming that a child wants to discuss a topic can actually make matters worse, instead try giving them the option.
5. I know how hard this is for you
This recognises and validates the child’s struggle.
6. This feeling will pass
This helps to ground the child and reminds them that they will come out of the other side of this feeling.
7. Sometimes I feel anxious to
This shows that you relate and can help to build trust.
8. Should we go for a walk?
Exercise serves as a good distraction and helps to combat anxiety.
9. Let’s break this down
Breaking down a problem can allow it to appear much more manageable.
10. You are not alone, we all feel anxious sometimes
This emphasises the large scale that anxiety exists on and that everyone feels anxious sometimes.
11. Let’s count to 100
You can change this number to meet your child’s needs but counting is a great distraction and grounding technique.
12. Should we research this?
A lot of anxious thoughts stem from fear of the unknown, therefore giving a child the power to understand a topic can help a lot.
13. Let’s make a character for how you feel
This allows the child to externalise the anxiety and put distance between themselves and their worries.
14. I love you
Simply hearing that they are loved can start to break the anxious thoughts down.
15. You are safe
Telling a child that they are safe reminds them that all though they are fearful they are not in any immediate danger.
16. How big is the worry?
This will allow you to grasp the scale of the anxious thought and allow the child to begin to put the worry into perspective.
17. I know it’s scary
This validates the child’s feelings.
18. Let me worry about it so that you don’t have to
Passing the worry to an adult that they trust may allow the child to start to let go of it.
19. What does science say about this
Looking at things more scientifically allows a child to apply and understand the law of probability in a simple way and see that their worry is unlikely to amount to anything.
20. What would ______ do?
Asking your child what their favourite superhero or someone they look up to would do can allow them to look at the problem from a new perspective and feel braver tackling it.
21. Is anything else making you feel uncomfortable right now?
Sometimes there may be more to the anxiety, for instance, the child may be tired, hungry, thirsty, or cold.
22. Why do you think that is?
Asking a child why they think that they feel a certain way can allow you both to understand the cause of the anxiety and get to the root of the problem.
23. Let’s put your worry on the shelf and we will pick it up again later
Sometimes some space from their thoughts is all that an anxious child needs, often when they come back to the worry, they will be less afraid of it.
24. Let’s list all of the people that love you
Love and anxiety are rivals in the mind and feeling love can help to combat anxious thoughts.
25. Let’s go to your happy place
Having a calm place where worries are not allowed can help a child to detach from the anxiety.
26. Let’s take a deep breath
Breathing exercises are proven to help lower anxiety.
27. Is there anyone else you would like to talk to about this?
Sometimes children like to talk to someone on the outside of a situation but may feel too guilty to ask to speak to someone else.
28. It’s okay to take it slow
Children are so used to running around all of the time that sometimes they forget to slow down their thinking.
29. What are you looking forward to?
This refocuses the child into a more positive mindset.
30. But what else could happen?
Asking a child to tell you the more positive possible outcomes of a situation when they are only focusing on the negative can be very powerful.
31. You have got this under control
This gives the feeling of control back to the child.
32. Just do your best
Sometimes knowing that their best is enough is all that they need.
33. Tell me about it
This phrase gives the child the freedom to talk about it.
34. We are an unstoppable team
This shows the child that they are not alone.
35. You are unstoppable
This helps the child to see that the anxiety will not defeat them.
36. Let’s look at our calm-down checklist
Keeping a calm down list at all times is very handy.
37. Even _____ gets anxious sometimes
Seeing that their heroes get anxious can help them to feel less ashamed of their feelings.
38. Let’s have a debate
This is a helpful way of showing the opposing side of the worry.
39. You have felt like this before and gotten through it
This reminds them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
40. What was helpful last time that you felt like this?
This allows the child to reflect upon how they have gotten through their feelings in the past.
41. I am so excited for ____
Focusing on something exciting can really help to reduce anxiety.
42. Let’s count blue things
Looking for a certain type of thing can serve as a great distraction.
43. Have a battle Cry
Chanting a battle cry can make a child feel strong.
44. Should we write the worry down
Sometimes writing a worry down can be enough to start letting go of it.
45. How worried are you from 1 to 10?
Putting a number on the worry can help a child to express their emotions.
46. What do we know for sure?
Focusing on facts can be one of the best ways to ease anxiety.
47. Where can you feel the anxiety?
This can allow you to understand if the anxiety is mental or also physical and whether the child is in a state of panic.
48. Let’s talk through all of the possible outcomes
This can help to combat the fear of the unknown.
49. Tell me about the last time that you were happy
This redirects the thoughts to more positive ones.
Hopefully being armed with these phrases can help you to help your child through anxious times. Regardless of which examples you choose to use, the most important thing is to be present, patient, and supportive.
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