Guest post by Jane Hanford
2020 has been a year unlike any other and it’s not just adults who have been impacted by the global pandemic. While many children and young people will have enjoyed the time off school and a more relaxed pace of life, for others the uncertainty will have been hard and they may well be having trouble adjusting and just need some reassurance.
I hope these tips, along with those in my book, Happy Anyway, will be helpful for you and your family.
1 Read up on anxiety so you can learn how to help your child. Try to engage them in your research at an age appropriate level so they can learn how to help themselves. If you can talk about what you are both reading it will really help both of you.
2. If you also suffer from anxiety it is really important that you help yourself so that you can help them. Just like on a plane you put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, take steps to calm your own anxiety first so that you can help them to calm theirs.
3. Ask them about what is causing them to feel anxious. They may have many fears and worries and it will help them to talk it through. Listen to try to understand, not just to fix them, and never dismiss their feelings or their fears.
4. You might help them gain a sense of perspective simply by listening. Or you might gently point out that the things they are worried about are unlikely to happen. Reassure them that they will be able to cope and they have support around them.
5. Keep the communication open. Be available and supportive so they feel that they can talk to you when they need to without being judged or challenged.
6 Reassure them that feeling anxiety is quite normal and most people feel it, even if they don’t show it.
7 Underneath anxiety is a belief that the world is a scary place, so give them loads of reassurance that you back them up completely, 100 per cent, no matter what.
8 Help to build their self-esteem by paying attention and reminding them of all the things they are good at, all their strengths, the qualities you admire and their achievements.
9. Role model the behaviours that would help them to feel better (which will also help you too). Build into your life the daily habits that help you to feel calmer. Show them that you prioritise taking care of yourself, physically and mentally, so they can prioritise taking care of themselves too.
10. If they are reluctant to talk to you, and let’s face it, that is a very common feature of teenagers, point them in the direction of helpful websites, organizations, charities and books that could help. Talk to their school or college, or your GP about your concerns as they may have counsellors or groups that could help.
Jane Hanford BA, MSc has studied psychology all her life and is using her Masters degree in Coaching Psychology and her experience as a psychological coach to help families and young people to overcome anxiety. Her book Happy Anyway offers straightforward advice and reassurance to young people to help them gain control of their anxiety and mental health.
For more information www.happyanyway.co.uk