The best way to support kids with anxiety

I try to live my life without regrets, but it’s not always possible – especially as a parent.

We simply don’t know what we don’t know. I’m learning all the time! And, in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, when we know better, we do better.

So if there’s one thing I could go back and change, and that I’m changing now that I know, it’s a particular aspect of how we’ve parented our girl.

You see, when she first exhibited anxiety around age 10 – far more than the usual childhood worries – we became overprotective. I hated seeing her in fear and pain so much that I wanted to bubble-wrap the world to keep her safe.

When school became too much, we found and encouraged her to move to a special, inclusive program with shorter hours and fewer stressors. When other activities became uncomfortable or difficult for her, we allowed her to drop those things.

But I now know that a better approach would have been to validate her feelings and also encourage her to move toward her fears. I wish someone had told me this years ago.

As an adult, when something scares me, I try to face it head-on and vanquish it. But it felt different for Z – she’s my baby! I want Z to grow up knowing how to be brave, and she has. She’s far braver than I am in countless scenarios.

Z also has anxiety to a degree that I do not. She deals with struggles that I don’t have to deal with. And when I see her afraid, panicked or feeling physically sick, I just want to help and protect her. My natural tendency as her mom is to rescue her and remove whatever is causing her stress or discomfort.

But, as I now realize, that is not always the best path forward. I’m learning all the time at my new job, including new and better tips about how to deal with our own and others’ emotional and mental health.

I am so happy The Kids Mental Health Foundation exists. Yes, it’s the organization that I work for – but it’s so much more than that. The foundation exists to provide every parent, caregiver, coach and other adult the mental health tools, skills and resources they need to support the kids in their lives.

Mental health is just as important as physical health – not just for adults, but for children, too. With expert-created resources from The Kids Mental Health Foundation, parents can support kids’ emotional and behavioral health from the start – before issues arise or life gets really tough.

Thanks to many things I’m still learning, I’m always working hard to do better as a parent. We’re working on facing our fears as a family – and on mindfully working through discomfort and stress rather than avoiding it.

I’m happy to share this link for great resources and tools to help kids with anxiety. If you know of other good sites, please let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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