How To Help Heal Trauma

How To Help Heal Trauma

How to Help Heal Trauma

help child heal trauma through parent coaching

Experiences in Resilience Are Key To Healing Trauma

My youngest had a skiing accident in January of 2023 that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Recovery was slow, but in January 2024 we practiced our final step of healing. Not from the bodily injury which luckily they have recovered from, but from the emotional one. The traumatic one. We returned to where the accident happened and we tried skiing again.

There were times when my child felt scared, but we talked and hugged and I encouraged them to move past their fear to experience what they were capable of because I knew they were ready for this. And then we went slow and we skied together.

In short we had a lesson in resilience.

And 3 hours later I couldn’t pull my child off the hill because they were having so much fun. And they were no longer skiing close to me, they wanted to do it on their own. They had experienced so much confidence building.

But the best part as a parent was that my child experienced resilience. That sometimes in life, bad things happen. But it does not mean it stays like that forever. They can overcome their fears and teach their body a new experience that helps to override the old. In short, they can help themselves heal their trauma.

When you want to have a similar lesson in resilience with your child, do the following:

1. Make sure you acknowledge and validate their feelings

Your child’s body is trying to keep them safe based on their past experience so it can produce some big and overwhelming feelings. Don’t gloss over those feelings, help your child to recognize them and where they may be coming from. And help them to co-regulate so those feelings don’t feel so overwhelming.

2. Help your child by letting them borrow your confidence

Your child will have doubts about trying something they feel is too hard or too scary. This is natural. Your job is to let them know you have confidence in them and that you believe they are ready so they can begin to believe it as well.

3. Go slow

It’s not about conquering it all. It is about helping your child stretch their tolerance while making them successful. Let them help guide the pace. Sometimes that means it is a small step in the direction of healing. And that is just fine. Keep having them take those small steps and they will get there.

The truth is my goal was to get my child back out to the same hill and onto skis. I was planning to spend the entire time on the bunny hill with them. And I was prepared to take a lot of breaks in the chalet.

And that approach gave my child the chance to set their pace. It was my child that wanted to slowly do more and begin doing the bigger runs. Which is why it was so impactful because my child was leading their own trauma healing.

Final Thoughts

While trauma itself is never fully erased from the body, your goal is to create an experience to overshadow it. Something to remember if past trauma sparks an emotional response. Because that will happen from time to time with trauma. But the more experiences in resilience you can support, the more your child will be able to better manage their trauma response.

The 5 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children Thrive In School

The 5 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children Thrive In School

The 5 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children Thrive In School

Parent Coach Jen Kiss shares 5 parenting tips to help children thrive in school

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Authority Magazine for an interview on The 5 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children Thrive In School.

Here is an excerpt from that interview.

1. Teach them how to cope with their anxiety

Anxiety is not something we need to get rid of or ignore. Anxiety is a feeling we all experience in our lives. So whether it is taking an exam, talking to someone or getting up the nerve to get on the school bus, anxiety is a part of life. And anxiety only really becomes an issue when it starts interfering with our lives. Parents can teach their children how to do deep breathing as a way to work through anxiety. Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve that runs along our spine and naturally calms down the body. When the body is calm, it is primed to learn, which will lead to performing better in school. I also am a big fan of giving anxiety a persona and treating it like a 3rd person. When we can teach our children that anxiety is like a really concerned friend that is there to try to protect us, we can teach them that they can choose to not listen to that friend. They can learn to tell their ‘anxious friend’ that things are not as bad as they seem or that they don’t need to worry, they can handle this challenge. In both of the above examples, parents are not responsible for taking away their child’s anxiety. They help their child learn how to live through the uncomfortableness of anxiety. When a child can learn to tolerate their anxiety, they develop resiliency and confidence. Their brains can also learn better because their prefrontal cortex, where logic, working memory and organizational skills are, is able to be fully engaged when the body is no longer anxious.

2. Reduce stress through mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way to relieve stress in the body. And while you may be skeptical or think it is trendy, the science behind mindfulness is robust. Mindfulness helps keep you in the present moment. This helps teach children that emotions and challenges come and go. This is particularly helpful because children lack the ability to put things into perspective based on their limited life experience. By staying in the present moment the body is able to relax, which once again primes it for learning. There are also several other benefits to teaching mindfulness to your child. Mindfulness helps you expand your ability to focus, pay attention and control your emotions. All of which are critical in order to function well at school. Because of all these benefits, mindfulness is a particularly good tool if your child has ADHD or other challenges with executive functioning. One of my favorite mindfulness techniques for kids is to have them jump or run for 20-30 seconds. Then have your child sit or lay down with their hand over their heart. Invite them to close their eyes and feel what their heart feels like. Have them notice how long it takes for their heart to calm down and what it feels like in their body once it does. Finally, have your child extend out their senses to notice how the rest of their body feels in that moment. The longer a child can hold on to noticing what they are feeling in their body the calmer they will become.

3. Set up routines and rituals

Whether your child is back at school, distance learning or participating in a hybrid system, routines and rituals are important. Routines and rituals help children feel safe because they are things that they can predict. It also helps them thrive because they can plan for what comes next easier. When a child feels safe, they are better able to learn. When a child is feeling unsafe or uneasy, their stress response is activated and they get ready to fight, flight or freeze. When a child is in this mode, their executive functioning is no longer online. This makes learning difficult and behaviors more challenging. Routines and rituals do not need to be big or complicated, but they should be consistent because once again the goal is to create predictability. One of my favorite parenting tips is utilizing music with your routine. Have your children make up a playlist of songs they enjoy. Then use that playlist as a way to help complete tasks. Music can be played to help them get ready and out the door in the morning or complete their homework after school. Music is very predictable. So for children that have trouble keeping track of time or staying on task it can be an easy way to help them get things done. One last thing about creating routines. Be careful not to make your routines too rigid. There should always be room to have some flexibility if needed. And it is also important to schedule downtime into your child’s daily routine. Downtime is a chance for your child to relax and regroup. Something that is critical for us all, but especially for children. Downtime is particularly important for children who have neurodiversity or learning disabilities because most mask their differences during the school day. Masking uses a lot of energy. This is in addition to the extra energy they are already spending to make up for their underdeveloped executive functioning. This can lead to burnout. If you don’t schedule enough downtime, your children will usually let you know through meltdowns and tantrums.

4. Make good nutrition a priority

If you want to help your child thrive, nutrition is a good place to start. The stomach is connected to the brain and it’s functioning. So if you want to help your child perform better at school, make sure they are eating well. Always try for a breakfast that is rich in protein to sustain energy throughout the morning. It is also a good goal to eat the rainbow as much as you can and to work in vegetables any way your child will let you. Try to eat less processed foods since those are prone to giving you inflammation. Inflammation in the gut often leads to inflammation in the brain, which can affect learning and behavior. Good nutrition can be even more critical for children with neurodiversity and learning disabilities. Because these children are more sensitive to the link between gut health and brain function. Additionally, a good breakfast is especially important for children taking medicines that suppress their appetite. This often leads to children eating only a little lunch and ending their school day ravenous. This of course impacts their ability to focus and learn as well as making them more prone to behavior challenges.

5. Set goals and celebrate successes.

Goals can really help combat depression as well as create motivation. Goals can get children excited about things while developing the skills of planning, organization, delayed gratification, and problem solving. Because we are in a time of COVID and there is still unpredictability, goals should be adjusted to account for this. That means, make your goals small so that your child is more likely to achieve them. This will build up their confidence. From there, you can work on building up their stamina for longer or more difficult goals. For children with neurodiversity and learning disabilities, make sure you are adding in some smaller goals on the way to their big goal so that they stay motivated. Having too big of a goal or one that is too far off may be too challenging. This is due to their struggles with time perception and planning, so adjust the goal to set them up for success. And of course make sure you celebrate successes. This has been a challenging time for kids. We need to take the time to let them know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed. So celebrate when they achieve their goals, but also celebrate them for when they do something that was hard for them. Bringing your child’s attention to the good in their lives will help them with their mental health. It can also help them recognize their own resiliency and problem solving. Two skills that are definitely needed for success.

If you would like to read more, you can visit Authority Magazine to read the full article.

3 Tips to Decrease Meltdowns

3 Tips to Decrease Meltdowns

3 tips to decrease meltdowns and tantrums

Minneapolis Parent Coach Jen Kiss gives 3 tips to decrease meltdowns and tantrums

As we all know, meltdowns and tantrums have a way of ruling the roost when they are in full swing. Whether your goal is to stop behavior before it occurs or have a quicker resolution, the key is finding the source. To do this, you have to do some investigating about why your child’s behavior is occurring.

At first glance, you may think the answer is obvious. For instance you may think it was because they didn’t get their way. Or you may have no idea because it feels like it came out of nowhere. But the key to solving behavior issues is to look a little deeper into your child’s reactions. All behavior is communication. When your child has a meltdown or tantrum they are trying to communicate with you.

So what is your child trying to communicate?

Where Behaviors Come From

Fear or Anxiety

A lot of challenging behaviors come out of fear or anxiety. From refusing to go to bed or school, to opposing everything you say, fear is often at the core of these very frustrating behaviors. Usually fear causes children to try to control their environment as a way to try to cope. This can show up as being rigid about what they will or won’t do, being clingy, avoiding certain places or people or becoming bossy and demanding. It can also show up as aggressive behavior because the child’s brain is trying to fight against their fear.

Sensory Sensitivities

For a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or sensory sensitivities, the world can feel like a minefield. Children can become overwhelmed when tasked with something their bodies are uncomfortable with. As a result, many kids with sensory sensitivities use avoidance to manage these sensitivities. They may also have big reactions to certain stimulus or it may seem like they completely tune the world out.

Stress and Overwhelm

Kids are not immune to stress, trauma or overwhelm. In fact, stress often affects kids more because their ability to regulate their emotions, self-soothe, cope and have perspective are still developing. When a child’s stress tolerance is breached the limited skills they do have go right out the window. This leaves kids reacting from their lower brain, which is charge of the stress response. When kids are stressed or overwhelmed it can show up as aggression, disinterest or avoidance.

Trauma

Trauma does not need to be a big, scary event. Trauma can be a lot of little events that add up over time or a single event. The nature of the event and whether there is a caring adult to help after the event, will determine whether a child experiences trauma.

If your child has a history of trauma, their amygdala can be enlarged because it is working overtime. An enlarged amygdala results in hypervigilence and more stress responses. Like stress, trauma limits a child’s ability to control their actions when triggered. Trauma can be triggered from everyday events or sensory stimulus, like smells. Trauma behaviors are usually much more extreme in their aggression. In addition, trauma tantrums can last for a very long time.

Learning Disability or Neurodiversity Struggles

Children with learning disabilities and neurodiversity struggle because their brain can’t do what is being asked of them. This can be extremely frustrating for the parent and child. While it often appears as being lazy or defiant, the child is actually neither of these things. Executive functioning abilities, which includes focus and attention, impulse control and predicting consequences, can be delayed or harder to master in children that have learning disabilities and neurodiversity. Research has shown that these children have brains that are wired in a different way. Research also indicates these children tend to experience anxiety and depression at a higher rate. Mental health struggles have a direct link to behavior challenges.

Connection or Relationship Troubles

We are social creatures by nature. When a child is not connecting to the important people in their lives, it can set off behavior challenges. A child who is lacking connection may become less trusting of others for fear of further rejection. Or they may become provoking and aggressive to demand others pay attention to them.

Lack of connection can have serious effects on a child’s attachment with caregivers and can lead to mental health issues that last into adulthood. If your child is struggling with behaviors, start by looking at your relationship. How much undivided connection time you are spending with them a day? If your child lacks alone time with you to talk or bond, make this a priority. Spending time with your child would be a good first step to reducing unwanted behaviors.

For teenagers, their main source for connection are their friends. Rejection by peers can lead to depression or significant behavior issues. If things seem fine in your relationship, check in to see how their friend relationships are going. Don’t push too hard, but let them know you are open for talking any time.

Solutions

Regardless of which category you think your child falls into, the solutions remain the same. So it is okay if your child falls into more than one category; that is not uncommon. It just might mean that it will take longer for your child to work through learning emotional regulation and impulse control because they have a few more hurdles in their way.

1. Spend at least 5 minutes a day connecting with your child

This time should be planned into your day the same way an important meeting would be. This time is spent doing whatever your child would like to do or talk about. Make sure to keep the time uninterrupted. If you need to interrupt your time to deal with something urgent, let your child know and set a time to circle back later.

2. Reflect back to your child so they know you understand their struggles

Whether your child is struggling with fear, stress, neurodiversity or sensory sensitivities, acknowledging why something is hard can be a game changer. If you want to get ahead of behaviors, reflect their feelings back to them as they are beginning to escalate. After reflecting back, like ‘that made you mad, you did not like that at all’, offer to do a coping technique with them. Coping techniques such as slow breathing and hugs are good for any age. If your child escalated too fast you can still reflect during their tantrum to make it shorter. Keep the words small and your voice calm. Listening is the key.

3. Provide “just right” accommodations to decrease meltdowns and tantrums

While we do not want to accommodate too much, we do want to make sure we are supportive. This means we provide just enough support to stretch your child into building their coping and self-regulation skills. For example, you may help them get started with deep breathing and ask for them to continue without you. Or you begin a hard task together and slowly remove yourself over time.

For anxiety and fear, while we do not want to create too much stress, the ultimate goal will be to show the child that they can be uncomfortable and still be okay. This is how we build up their confidence and resilience and lessen behavior challenges. Always start with little steps towards your goal since going too fast can make your child resist. If you want to learn more about how to do this with your child, check out our 3 Ways to Help Your Child with Anxiety.

For sensory sensitivities, accommodations are usually necessary. Like anxiety, the goal is to help them learn to build up tolerance so they can function better in their lives. Because sensory sensitivities can be complex and span all 8 senses, it can be very helpful to work with an occupational therapist to make progress.

Final Thoughts

All behavior is communication. If you listen to what your child’s behavior is trying to communicate you can get to the root cause. Once you know their motive, you can parent from a better, more effective place. Knowing why our kids act the way they do allows us to do the things that will help minimize their behaviors. It also allows us to view our children from a different light and meet them with compassion and patience. And when we do that, challenging behaviors lessen dramatically.

3 Ways to Improve Your Teenager’s Mental Health

3 Ways to Improve Your Teenager’s Mental Health

3 Ways to Improve your Teenager’s Mental Health

Parents can help their teenagers mental health thru modeling self care and talking about feelings.

Teenage brains are wired to seek new experiences, master skills, and create relationships. Developmentally, this is what is needed for teenagers to grow into adulthood.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has interfered with all of these things. This can impact a teenager’s mental health, which may lead them to feel anxious or depressed.

Some teenagers are experiencing these struggles for the first time. While others are experiencing them at a more severe or frequent occurrence.

How do you know when to worry as a parent?

When your teenager’s daily life is affected by their emotions, its time to start paying attention. Everyone experiences big emotions sometimes. And it is normal to pull back from life for a short period of time while you process your feelings.

But when your teen is withdrawing for more than a couple of days it is a red flag. It is also a red flag if they are no longer able to function in their daily life the way they used to. These red flags let you know it is time to intervene with help.

What does no longer being able to function look like?

Think of functioning as the everyday things we do to navigate life. Like sleeping, eating, taking care of our body, attending school (on-line or in person). If your teenager has stopped doing these things it’s time to check in with them to see what’s up.

Let’s talk about sleep

Sleep affects a teenager’s ability to learn, make good decisions and develop emotionally. Too little sleep will negatively impact their mental health and functioning. When a teen is struggling with their mental health, sleep is one of the first places to look.

Having said that, it is normal for teenagers to change their sleep habits during the teen years.

Most will turn into night owls, due to changes affecting their circadian rhythm. These changes are due to development, which produce a slower building sleep drive. These changes also cause their bodies to delay making melatonin (the body’s natural sleeping aid).

So naturally, teenagers stay up later and want to sleep in later.

It is also normal for teenagers to catch up on their sleep during the weekend. This is usually due to them sleeping too little during the week and their body trying to capture the lost hours.

If your teen is struggling with their mental health, help them keep track of how much sleep they are getting. If your teen is not getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night, work with them to make their sleep health a priority.

If your teenager is sleeping too much, where they are missing out on life, it is usually a sign they are out of balance. Helping your teenager re-engage in life and finding professional help can help.

More red flags

  • Your teenager has a theme of anxious or depressive thoughts in all they do.
  • Your teenager believes their feelings are permanent (i.e. this is never going to end).
  • Your teenager indicates they are powerless in how they feel or in creating change for how they feel.

If your child mentions self-harm or taking their life, always treat it seriously. Try talking with them to let them know you are there for connection and help. If they don’t want to talk with you, see our Teen Resources for numbers and resources so they can talk with someone else.

What can you do as a parent to help?

Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard to get your teenager to buy into getting help. Sometimes it is hard to find help because everyone is struggling right now. But there are ways you can help at home.

1. Practice your own self-care.

Your teens are watching everything you do, even if they pretend to ignore you. If you model getting up, showered and dressed everyday it does plant seeds in your teenager’s mind.

Invite your teenager to join you in your self-care. Ask them to go for a walk with you, take deep breaths with you or do mindfulness with you.

Your teenager may deny your request depending on how stuck they are, but don’t give up. Keep asking them and if you can, do your self-care around them so they can always join in.

Gratitude is an easy way to invite your teen to start practicing self-care. At a meal ask everyone to say what they are grateful for. Even if they say they are grateful for going back to their room after dinner, it is a start.

Consistency is key so keep trying even if it does not seem to be working. At the very least you will feel better, which will help you when interacting with your teenager.

2. Teach your teenager self-compassion

This may be a hard one for your teenager at first, but again modeling it can have a huge impact. Ask them to talk to themselves as though they were their best friend.

Take it in little steps. In the beginning. act as their regulator. When you hear them say something harsh to themselves, go over and give them a hug if they will let you. Then say ‘I’m sorry that was so harsh, that must have been hard to hear’. Even if they don’t want the hug, say the words so they can hear your compassion.

Next, encourage them to refrain from saying the negative talk to themselves. Ask them if they would say that to their friend and remind them to treat themselves the same.

And finally, teach them to practice compassion with themselves. Teach them to say, ‘this is hard, it’s okay to feel bad because it is so hard, everyone is having a hard time with this right now’.

Kristin Neff, a leader in self-compassion research, has many short compassion exercises on her website. Share them with your teenager so they can do them when they want. Or better yet, do them together!

3. Validate your Teenagers Feelings

Anxiety and depression can feel very isolating, like no one else understands or feels like we do. But a parent has the power to break through these feelings by listening and reflecting.

Give your teenager lots of chances and lots of time to talk. Teenagers don’t always want a face to face so a car ride, walk or dark room can provide the safe space for them to open up.

Next, let them say anything. This means they should be doing 90% of the talking. Your job is to sit there and listen. Every once in a while repeat back what you heard. For example, ‘it feels like this is never going to end’ or ‘it feels like there is no point in getting up’.

Don’t judge what they say, try to make things better, or problem solve.

Just listen and repeat.

If you feel like you are getting upset listening to them, ask them to take a break. Model what to do when you start to get upset. Say you want to hear more, but you are feeling upset and you don’t want to say the wrong thing. Then say you need to take a break and you will come back to finish the talk in 10 minutes.

Make sure you let your teenager know you are coming back and commit to it by scheduling a time. This will keep you accountable and will build their trust in you.

If you can, invite them to take a walk with you or do a short activity with you during the break. That way you are keeping the connection and modeling how to cope. As an added bonus, you are getting both of you to focus on something other than their anxiety or depression.

Final thoughts

Navigating the teenage years can be difficult even without added mental health challenges. But your teenager does not need to suffer, and you can help. Sometimes these strategies are enough and sometimes your child will need more help. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help for your child or yourself.

3 Ways to Help Your Child With Anxiety

3 Ways to Help Your Child With Anxiety

3 Ways to Help your child with anxiety

A parent or caregiver can help an anxious child learn coping techniques for better anxiety management

All parents have experience dealing with an anxious child from time to time. But for children that require “more” due to a learning disability, giftedness, being twice exceptional (2e), having special needs, a disorder, or trauma, child anxiety can take on its own life and even rule the roost.

If you are dealing with a child that experiences high anxiety you know it can be very taxing on you as a parent or caregiver. Children deal with it in several different ways, asking what ifs constantly, catastrophizing, and becoming very rigid and controlling, just to name a few.

So how can you as a parent or caregiver help your child with anxiety?

Here are 3 tools to start using now to help your child with anxiety.

1. Help your child feel safe

Anxiety lives in the brain and in the imagination of a child. So it is not surprising that children who’s brains are wired differently tend to experience anxiety more intensely and at a higher rate than other children. “More” kids are wired for anxiousness.

Because of a child’s anxiety, they may avoid trying things or doing things. This is because new does not feel safe. New is less predictable. All children find safety and comfort in routines and predictability, but this is especially true of our “more” kids who are neurodiverse or have experienced trauma or loss. So if we want our “more” kids to let go of their rigidity and control that stems from anxiety they must first feel safe in their environment.

So how do we do this?

Use baby steps to show your child success and address their fears. Maybe your child meltdowns at the mere thought of getting on the school bus. So start with something small, like simply driving past the bus stop. Then once your child seems fine with that, stop at the bus stop and let your child watch the bus go by. Next have your child get out of the car and watch the bus go by (make sure you wave the bus by or have a quick talk with the bus driver to let them know that you are just practicing and that your child will need some more time before they will ride the bus). After that have your child practice standing at the bus stop and watching the bus go by. And finally have your child get on the bus.

It takes time, practicing each step several times until the child can remain calm. And depending on your child’s anxiety level, they may go faster or slower with the steps.

Provide encouragement and excitement as they do each step, especially if they were uncomfortable doing it. Also, talk to them about their progress as they continue to build up their stamina. It’s all about showing them what they can do and that they will be okay. The important thing is to keep them moving forward, even if it is uncomfortable and slow.

You can also use positive language toward your child while acknowledging their anxiety. Say things like ‘I get it. This is really scary for you. And I believe you can handle this’. If you show your child you believe in them, they will start to believe in themselves.

2. Pull back on accommodations and practice coping instead

Almost every single parent or caregiver who loves a child with anxiety knows their triggers. You know what situation is likely to make your child spin into an anxious meltdown and so you make changes and accommodations to avoid these meltdowns. And you are quite loving to do it, but you may actually be making it harder for your child to learn how to cope effectively with their anxiety.

You might be wondering why accommodations are bad, after all they can save you from major meltdowns. But what accommodations actually can do is make home or being with a parent feel like the only safe place, actually increasing a child’s anxiety about the outside world because the contrast between the known and the unknown is so different.

For our “more” kids, anxiety is a part of them. Remember I said it was hardwired into their brain? This means that they will most likely always struggle with anxiety their entire life, but you can help them struggle less and learn to cope better when you ditch the accommodations.

Does that mean we immediately throw out all of the accommodations our child with anxiety has become dependent upon? Absolutely not! That would be a monumental meltdown no parent or child should have to experience.

What it means is you should begin to think about how you can start scaling back your accommodations to make your child stretch their ability to handle their anxiety in order to grow in their capacity to handle situations. This may be painful for all involved in the beginning, but if you can stick with it consistently for a few weeks it will have long term results.

To start, choose one very specific situation which causes your child to become filled with anxiety. A common one is needing to talk to someone they don’t know well (like a restaurant worker, sales person, librarian, etc.). So maybe if you would normally be the one to place your child’s order at a restaurant you give your child advanced warning that you will no longer be doing this, that you believe they are capable of this task and even offer to have a few practice conversations with them, where you pretend to be the wait staff. Then take them to a restaurant and remind them it is their responsibility to order for themselves, if they choose not to order then they simply will have to wait to eat until they get home.

Will your child possibly go hungry for an hour? Yes, possibly. Will your child have a meltdown in public and make you uncomfortable and embarrassed? Yes, possibly. But keep your eye on the prize. You are stretching your child so they can succeed and function in life independent of you.

For our “more” kids, they naturally have to work harder to learn and master their coping skills. Reassure your child you believe they can do this. Tell them they will be okay even if they are scared and uncomfortable. And while you are at it, tell that to yourself.

3. Reframe your child’s anxiety

So often we view anxiety as a bad thing, something to be avoided or something we need to get rid of. But in reality, anxiety itself is not bad for us. It stems from a part of the brain that is trying to keep us safe, which is a good thing if we are actually in a situation where we could be in danger. It just sometimes gets a little overexcited and views everything as a threat and for our “more” kids that can create an overwhelming combination for child and parent alike.

As I said before, our “more” kids are hard-wired to be predisposed for anxiety. This means “getting rid” of anxiety is not likely, so instead we must reframe how our child views their anxiety.

To do this, start by talking to your child about worry’s “job”. When talking to kids, it can be helpful to give worry a persona, turn it into a character (yes, this even works for teens), that your child can picture in their head or even draw out on paper. Explain how worry’s job is to keep them safe and to help point out when things don’t seem safe.

Next, explain to your child that sometimes worry gets overexcited and starts pointing to everything and saying it is a danger, but that your child has the power to help keep worry from getting too carried away.

Now help your child create a written plan for a specific situation, either with words or pictures, where your child shows how they will solve the problem for their ‘what if’ worries.

Once your child can see the various solutions to their problems give your child the language to tell worry ‘it’s not that bad, I can handle this’ or ‘I know you are scared, but I know I can do this’ or even ‘I know you are trying to help, but I am going to be fine’.

Two things are at work here.

One, kids are learning how to recognize their worry is sometimes not accurate and how to provide their brain solutions ahead of time so problem solving becomes more automatic.

Two, research shows I statements and positive affirmations can have a significant effect on attitudes, actions and behaviors.

Final Thoughts

Your child’s anxiety can feel overwhelming to both you and your child and while you may not be able to get rid of their anxiety you can take significant steps to lessen the impact of anxiety in their lives. Your “more” child has the tools they need, but they need to practice them a lot and they need your support and guidance to give them confidence that they will be okay.

Now it’s time for action! Pick one of the above tools and commit to using it with your child consistently for the next 4 weeks and see the impact it can have on your child’s anxiety.