Anxiety in Children
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3 Ways to Avoid Unintentionally Feeding Anxiety in Children

We know first-hand how persuasive and determined anxiety can be. If your child is struggling with anxiety, take heart in knowing that it is possible to change the grip that it has on their life. With a little guidance, information and strategies, we can help your child build resilience.

How to avoid feeding anxiety in children

If you have an anxious child, you’ve probably tried everything you can think of to make a difference. While the techniques below all likely to stem from a place of great love (sometimes tinged with desperation, which is reasonable) – here are three things that might be keeping your child’s anxiety fueled. Remember though, you will always know your child better, so trust your instincts about what works best.

Anxiety in Children

How to avoid feeding anxiety in children

If you have an anxious child, you’ve probably tried everything you can think of to make a difference. While the techniques below all likely to stem from a place of great love (sometimes tinged with desperation, which is reasonable) – here are three things that might be keeping your child’s anxiety fueled. Remember though, you will always know your child better, so trust your instincts about what works best.

#1. Avoidance

Avoidance can be disguised in a variety of ways. It can be obvious, such as refusing to participate in extracurricular activities or heading to the library for lunch to avoid the playground. Avoidance can also appear in subtle ways, such as when a child goes over his or her homework again and again to avoid making a mistake, or when a youngster takes a long time making a decision to avoid making the wrong one.

Of course, when children exhibit anxiety, it’s understandable that a caring parent would want to shield them from these negative emotions. But, avoidance has a way of making things worse in the long run for three main reasons:

  • Avoidance prevents your child from learning that fear is a warning to us, not a forecast. It stops children from learning that whatever is concerning them is unlikely to occur, and that if it does, they are strong, resilient and resourceful enough to deal with the situation.
  • Avoidance can become the default mode of response to the world if it occurs frequently enough. When this happens, the world can begin to feel unsafe. The danger is that youngsters will begin to believe that they must continually be on the lookout for problems, which can be stressful for everyone -particularly your child.
  • Avoidance encourages children to steer clear of unfamiliar or unpredictable circumstances. They become less motivated to try new things and explore the world, preferring instead to seek out safe and comfortable experiences that come with security. Their world becomes smaller the more they do this.

#2. Over Protection

Protective behaviour is an important component of being a caring and committed parent when there is a threat. At times, supporting avoidance, organising surroundings to make it feel safer, or modifying plans to fit the child’s worry are exactly what is required. But when this protection occurs too frequently and unnecessarily, it might obstruct children’s abilities to develop their own courage, strength, and resilience. It can also prevent kids from learning that the world, while scary at times, isn’t always as frightening as it appears.

#3. Constant Reassurance

If your child has had a genuine scare or is about to accomplish something brave, nothing beats a hug and heartfelt reassurance to soothe the pain and keep the ground beneath their feet firm. Even as adults, hearing someone assure us that everything will be fine is comforting. However, reassurance – like so many other things we enjoy – can become counterproductive if it is given in excess.

Excessive reassurance can unintentionally damage a child’s ability to develop self-confidence and self-sufficiency. It will be even more difficult for an anxious child to find their own way if you are the one who always supplies the bridge between an anxious thought and a brave reaction.

In Summary

Make a gradual change to new ways of responding to them. There’s no need to rush. Changing the way you do things too abruptly may cause kids to become confused and nervous.

Anxiety is an unavoidable aspect of life. Every time we test our limits and try something new, there is going to be some level of fear involved. It’s natural and good, and it lets us know when we need to be brave. Our children would have to live well within their comfort zones if they were to be fully free of anxiety. They must expand and push against their boundaries from time to time in order for those boundaries not to tighten around them, as cosy and safe as it may be.

If you are looking for help with child anxiety to gain further evidence-based strategies, Positive Mind Works can help. We have a child/family therapist on our team – Katherine Broughton. Katherine would be happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you have surrounding parenting and child anxiety.

To learn more, or book an appointment, please click here or call our friendly reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) or 0800 327 477 (NZ).

Katherine Broughton

Katherine Broughton
Educational Psychologist

To book with Katherine, please click here or contact 1800 327 477


Meet Katherine Broughton

Educational Psychologist at PMW

Katherine supports parents to make positive changes for their children by identifying the problem, setting goals, and building on the strengths of both their child and the situation within their community.

Katherine offers online advice and guidance to caregivers and their child as required.

To learn more about Katherine, click here.

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