Anxious children: What to do when you have a Epic worrier?

Anxious children: Helping them not to worryMy daughter worries ALL THE TIME, she is one of the anxious children at school; though she does seem to come across as more resilient there than she is at home I think….

I wrote about this a while back, when we had a long discussion about what would happen to her room when she moved out. She was 6 at the time….

However, in the last week it appears the worrying has hit epic proportions, and when I say Epic, I mean EPIC…kind of like the tide, a worry comes out, and you think you have managed to make it subside with your uber brilliant parenting advice, and then another worry wave hits you, and you have to fend that one off too.

I am trying to surf those worry waves, but its bl**dy hard work.

Every night for a week we have been talking for 30-45 minutes before bed about the worries she has. My “parenting advice blog brain” (not sure I really have one of those, but hey) said that it could be attention…

And perhaps it is, but its one hell of a complicated way to seek attention…

“Mummy, Why are there people in the world that aren’t very nice to you?

Were those tests I did this week (SATS) to see which classes I would be in at school? (Both the school and I have said nothing to her about SATS, she seems to be coming up with her own ideas)

I don’t think I am doing well enough in my Maths mummy – I am not good enough

Mummy, why did god make nits? (More on this one when I have the strength)

Why are boys always so silly? (Something we will never fathom my dear)

I don’t know any of the teachers at junior school – I am scared, mummy

Mummy, why do I worry so much about things?”

And so on.

Trying to provide reassurance is absolutely shattering for me, as there is always another question, and something else worrying her…..

But I keep going. I know that these are important worries to my little one, and if I don’t help her with them now, then she won’t come to me when the worries are bigger, and maybe more important to our adult eyes and ears.

What happens if I ignore her thoughts about friends, her classes, and her SATS now; and then she has fears about boyfriends, sex, and exams later? She won’t come to me if she doesn’t think I value her worries, will she?

I wanted to help ease her fears, so we came up with three ideas:

  1. A worry tree; she could pin her thoughts on a tree in an apple, and then they would be shared, and so no-longer a worry
  2. A set of worry beads; she could pass the beads through her hands so that the worries would be passed on
  3. A set of worry jewels; she could hold a jewel and say her worry out loud and then put the worry in a pretty bag – gone.

However:

Mummy, I am worried people will see the tree when they come round

Mummy, I am worried the worry beads won’t work…

So we went for the jewels!

What have you used to help ease your child’s worries – do you have a worry bead/tree/stones/jewels – do let us know below – any advice is much appreciated!

14 Comments

  • Mostly parents are facing some issues as their kids always remain worried for little things. This article may prove as a helping guide for such parents.Nice effort Helen i must say.Thanks for sharing i am really glad to read such a good post.

  • Dealing with worrying kids is really a tough and patient enduring job. Sometimes parents lose their tempers and get annoyed with their kids but i think its natural. Anyway your post is completely superb and helpful for parents. Bless you and thanks for this excellent post.

  • Dear Helen your idea of “Worry jewel” sounds completely amazing.You are doing a great job indeed.May God bless you and your kids as well. Excellent post that helps the parents who are struggling through such hard situations. Thanks for sharing.

  • From my own experience as a very anxious young person, I can say with confidence: parents with anxious children need to acknowledge their children’s fears, their personalities, temperament, sensitivities, and, if they are not able to make headway with their child’s anxiety with practical methods, therapy should be sought. Worry and anxiety runs deep in families, and is very difficult for a parent alone to fix. Also, provide good role modelling for your children – get help for your own stress if needed. Lessen your own life drama. Create a peaceful home environment. Make sure your child knows he or she is important. An anxious child is struggling, don’t lose sight of this. They need help that you alone may not be able to provide. Great post, great tips.

  • Oh god, I can sympathise. My daughter is 8 and a huge worrier. Just tonight we had tears over her history topic ww2 and how she doesn’t like it as there is bombing and fighting and children got evacuated to the country away from their mums and she was panicing that would happen to her.

    • Oh bless her, Emma – I can so relate to that. Sometimes is so hard when they have these complex emotions in such a tiny, an immature little body. The worry jewels do seem to have helped my little girl though, we haven’t had anywhere near as many worries since…perhaps something similar with help ur little one?

  • I have a 5 year old daughter (stepdaughter) who is being used as a weapon against her father and she worries all the time about everything, things she shouldn’t even know. :( We do sit down with her and talk to her about them and we try to reassure her that everything is OK and that she doesn’t need to worry about anything and try to distract her by fun activities and keeping her busy. I would like advice how how to make it easier for her in this situation and if someone has an idea to help her through this as what we have done so far has worked a little bit but not as much as we want it to. TIA

  • Oh goodness that must be really tiring. For her and for you!

    Somebody once said to me that the only thing to fear is fear itself. And that a simple exercise is to say “whats the worst that can happen”. To every reply.

    What will happen to my room
    Whats the worst that can happen
    Somebody else will sleep in it
    Whats teh worst that can happen
    They will sleep in my bed
    Whats the worst that can happen
    They change the sheets for theirs

    Slowly worriers start to see that if that “is the worst that can happen” it actually isnt something worth worrying about at all.

    That is a very simplified version but it has worked for me in stressful situations.

  • You’re already way ahead of me, because she actually tells you what she’s worried about, rather than bottling it up. That’s a really good thing. I say keep letting her talk – she probably just needs to get them out, and that’s healthy. Don’t try to solve her worries though, ask her to think through what would happen if her worries came to pass, in her own way – then she will see that most of them she can deal with. GG has worry dolls for bedtime – she can’t tell me stuff, but if it’s stopping her sleeping, she can tell the dolls, and they take care of her worries until morning, so she doesn’t have to worry overnight. In the morning they’re often not so bad. I think night time is the worst – that’s when I do all my worrying. It’s always better in the morning.

  • Oh gosh, I truly empathise with this one, Sausage is also a worrier of epic proportions and its sometimes not easy to allay her fears. Unfortunately, the best thing I’ve come up with so far is distraction, but at just 4 its probably a lot easier to take her mind off of things than it is for older kids.

    I do agree with Tanya in the respect that we’ve also been trying to help Sausage develop a “so what?” attitude – we encourage her to thing about cause and effect to try and show her that the things she’s worrying about isn’t all that big of a deal, in reality. I hate the thought that my sensitive, kind-hearted girl needs to ‘toughen up’, but it seems to be working.

  • Oh I feel your pain! One of my twins is just the same and worries about everything. I like your worry jewels idea. We’ve used worry dolls in the past and now she is older (almost 10) we are working on resilience and coping tools (have blogged about them if you want to take a look) . And I am working on not losing my mind and focussing on loving her, no matter what. Good luck!

  • It is so hard when they worry, my son who is 9 worries a lot and I swing from sympathy to annoyance but it think that it is a part of him and I will never change it. It sounds as though you are doing an amazing job to try and reassure her and I really hope that the jewels help x

  • I used to have ‘worry dolls when I was little…tiny little dolls in a little box that you could keep out of site/ under a pillow. The idea was you could tell the dolls your worries and they would help overnight. Simply google ‘worry dolls’ and you will find them :)

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