We have a worried child in the family …..
He worries about his health, school, work, consequences of things i.e. not crossing the road but what if he eats something and has mud on his hands, “can you catch heart attacks” or hearing about an illness asking if it will happen to him.
It involves lots of questions and is usually timed around when we are about to leave the house or when the phone rings etc.
I have heard other parents say they have had children who are worriers so I don’t feel alone but these are my top tips on how to deal with it.
- Patience – answer the questions as best you can.
- If they are worried about whether they might die, explain it is rare for children to die. I did ask if he knew anyone who had died already, knowing his answer would be no, but this may not be the case for all children.
- They may seem ridiculous questions to us as adults but it is reasonable really to ask if you can catch a heart attack; we often talk about catching colds or sickness bugs.
- Keep them busy – encouraging them to be busy helps to keep young minds occupied with constructive thoughts.
- Talk to them if they have overheard something; take time to explain gently. We can often give quite general answers to younger children. They will ask questions if they want to know more but sometimes they are satisfied with a seemingly obvious answer i.e. “why are peoples house flooded?” – answer “because there has been lots of rain.”
- They will watch our reactions – do we talk constantly about the number of horrible things that happen in the world or do we always want to watch/listen to the news and as the old adage says bad news sells news.
- Be positive and talk about positive things.
- Show interest and listen to what your children say.
- Work on solutions together however tempting it is resist leaping in and providing the answer or running off to speak to the teacher or another parent. Work on a solution together.
- Offer reassurance – whether a hug, time together or a chat. Often a child just wants to feel loved and that their parents are there for them.
Finally you can always rope in someone else’s help, whether thats a partner, another relative or a friend. If my son is reluctant to talk to me or his Dad he will usually speak to his Grandad and that’s fine by me. It means he is talking to someone and sometimes I don’t need to know what the issue is. If his Grandad thinks I should know he will tell me (but usually when my son isn’t around).
Do you have a child that worries? Have you come up with ways to help them deal with them? Is it a struggle for you to know what to do? Share your thoughts with us.