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Parent Resources

  • Writer's pictureSonja Latifpour

Flexibility: An Important Coping Tool for Your Anxious Child

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

Anxious children are often chronically inflexible. They live and breath predictability, stability and crave routine. For some children the comfort is found in only eating certain foods, or being tucked into bed a certain way, or having a good bye routine. The rhythm of a routine is comforting, until the routine is changed on them. The predictable world comes crashing down, and with it your patience.

Anxiety demands certainty. Endless certainty, that the world cannot satisfy because life is unpredictable. Parents often find themselves endlessly reassuring as a tool to quench anxiety's never-ending thirst for certainty.

Flexibility is an important coping skill that anxious children need help with.

The next time your child asks, " will I be sick?" or "will my teacher be upset at me?" instead of giving endless reassurances, try letting your child sit with the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing the outcome,

by sprinkling some uncertainty into your words by saying, " hmmm, I don't think so, " or " from what you told me I don't see why you would be sick." Follow up with acknowledging the uncertainty: " I see this is making you worried/uncomfortable that you can't know for sure."

You are providing support as your child sits with the anxiety and works through it, proving to your child that even if the worst happens, that things will still be ok. Helping your child experience anxiety is the most powerful way to gain control of it- teaching your child resilience, bravery and belief that they are the boss of their anxiety.

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