Some children worry more than others and you will know if your child is prone to feeling anxious or not. A way you can explain worrying to your child is:
an unhelpful thought that is bothering you by going round and round in your head about:
- something that has happened in the past or
- a problem that you think might happen in the future that you think you won’t be able to cope with. Worrying is not enjoyable and feels uncomfortable.
Another word for the thoughts going round and round is rumination. Research has shown that people who tend to ruminate more and have poor coping strategies for doing so are more likely to struggle with mental health.
Your child could be taught:
1) to recognise when they are ruminating
2) to recognise the physical sensations that come with worry (e.g. neck tension, heart beating faster, ‘butterflies’ in the tummy, etc)
3) Some healthy coping strategies to help with addressing worrying. Here are some suggestions. Different things work well for different people and your child might already have something they use to self-soothe. These need some practice:
- Look at what you’re worrying about. Are there any problems that could be solved – what can you actually do?
- Use visualisation – picture the worry getting smaller, make it black and white, put an uplifting tune as a soundtrack to the worry.
- Allow time to worry and then stop. ‘Stop’ can become a mantra when you find yourself thinking about it again.
- Think of a time you had a similar worry and you coped.
- Learn to accept uncertainty. Know you will cope.
- Write worries down for closure.
- Use perspective – do you think you will still be worrying in a year’s time? What would someone you respect say to you about your worry?
- Lift your mood – listen to music, find a friend to talk to, go for a walk, find something to laugh about