“I don’t want to go to school!”
It was the third time in a week that I heard this broken record. Every morning started the same, I woke up my son and then for the next hour I had to keep pushing him to do the next task in order to be ready to leave for school.
“I have a headache.”
“I have a stomachache!”
Each morning, my nerves were frazzled and fried before it was even 7:00 A.M. After all the kids left for school while I tried to breathe a sigh of relief, I knew all too well what the morning awaited.
Almost like clockwork, the phone rang from school, and the nurse wanted to let me know my child was again in her room. She was not only calling to let me know but seeking whether I knew what was going on.
Anxiety was what was going on!
It came after an isolated event when another sibling forgot to pick up this child and for the next few months, I felt like we returned to the stage of separation anxiety and great anxiety in general.
What Does Anxiety Look Like in Kids?
Now with anything else, each child is different, but many kids exhibit these symptoms when struggling with anxiety.
- Refusal to go to school or get on the bus
- Inability to change how they get to school or be picked up without massive questions
- Mood changes
- General uneasiness to anything out of the ordinary with a focus on needing to ask questions, be explained how things will work on repeat.
Here is the reality: change is difficult for all of us. Transitions are anxiety-inducing, but after a few weeks as we settle into a new routine, the anxiety should lessen.
Today’s age is stressful. Our kids are dealing with more competitive sports, increase in video games, social media, school violence, and more intense academics.
If it’s been said we are a stressed-out nation, don’t you think this also applies to our kids who are mimicking the role models over them?
How Do We Help Our Kids Feel Validated?
What Not To Do:
- It’s easy for others to say “don’t worry,” but for those who are anxious, this isn’t a helpful statement. It induces guilt and shame and doesn’t help our kids work through their thoughts and find a healthier way to focus.
- Teaching our children a lesson such as making them endure a stressful situation can backfire and cause more damage.
- Ridiculing our children isn’t a healthy, constructive way to help them overcome either. This is a great opportunity to help them establish healthy ways to handle stress and tension.
- Believe they will outgrow it without enlisting the help of someone more knowledgeable.
What To Do:
- Validate their feelings.
- Talk through events and cheer them on.
- Expose them to the stress with support and guidance. For example, my child didn’t want to sing at a concert for fear I would leave without him. I showed him where I was sitting beforehand, and throughout the concert, I waved and made eye contact. We had made a designated place to meet afterward, and I was there waiting.
- Inspire them with what God says about worry, anxiety, and fear.
- Work with professionals to help your child in the best way possible.
- Make a conscious effect to make sure they are eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and relaxing without technology.
- Give them a play-by-play when plans change so they can be prepared.
God Can Help Us Help Our Anxious Child
Our children don’t need to be bound up in the stronghold of anxiety and fear. Both of these emotions are real, and by being proactive, we can empower them to deal with change and transitions.
As Christian parents, we can lead our children to God’s Word during these times of tension and share with them what God says:
- He is with us.
- God will give us strength.
- He will never leave us or forget about us.
- We can do all things through Him.
As we teach our kids these verses and help them internalize them, fear of change, tense times, and unstable circumstances won’t affect them as much!
To get 6 Power Verses to Empower Your Anxious Child printable, follow me to Unmasking the Mess.