Kids may feel anxiety but can not express what is it they're feeling. Instead, they may use random phrases.
Since the concept of anxiety has been brought to the limelight, people are learning to cope and heal from it. Of late, anxiety among children is also being discussed and parents are on the lookout to spot symptoms and help in managing the same. A therapist mom, Melissa - who goes on TikTok by @momtherapist - shared in an earlier video that a child may not necessarily be able to express anxiety through commonly known symptoms. Instead, they may share what they’re feeling through minimalistic dialogue and behavior. “Kids talk about anxiety in a whole lot of ways that parents don’t pick up,” she said. She then shared 15 ways kids communicate that they’re having anxiety.
As the mom kept reading the statements, it was clear that these dialogues may often be picked up as tantrums and ignored. However, it is necessary to understand the underlying cause behind the child’s behavior and words. A few statements the therapist read were, “What if…what if, what if, what if,” followed by, “I can’t sleep,” “I don’t know,” “I just want to stay with you” and so on. It may be hard for kids to differentiate between a feeling of uneasiness caused by anxiety and a genuine tummy ache and it’s up to parents to look out for connecting patterns or behaviors and understand whether their child is having anxiety.
In a follow-up video, the therapist suggested ways to manage a child’s anxiety when they express themselves through these subtle ways. The mom recommended making kids understand their feelings before trying to manage them. The mom suggested that parents teach their kids a skill called reflecting feeling. “If kids understand what they’re feeling and when they’re feeling it, then we can cope with it appropriately.” Several parents thanked the mom for her insight and even asked for more, which the mom shared in several follow-up videos. In one of the videos, the mom pointed out a much-ignored concept of over-worrying.
"The brain gets good at things that it does a lot," the mom said. She then explained that worrying a lot can lead to the brain adopting the worrying methodology for everything, thus making it a negative habit. She then suggested that kids spend less time worrying to dismiss anxiety caused by over-worrying. "We're just going to help them spend a little less time on their worries," the therapist added. Firstly, the mom mentioned the need to keep a worry-timer. She suggested that 10 to 15 minutes is enough, where parents listen to their child's worries during this time. "We're not going to solve problems or offer solutions. We're just going to listen," the mom said.
The mom further suggested keeping a "worry time" that suits both the parent and the child so that the child's feelings are validated. She also pointed out saving all the worries for the worry time. "I wonder if we can save that worry time" is one of the phrases she recommended using when one's child begins to worry. "Help your kid distract their brain by doing something fun or enjoyable," the mom added.
View this post on Instagram