What to do when your child is worrying a lot

Hi guys! Today’s post is for children who may worry too much. All kids worry from time to time, if they have a test in school, their first day back to school after break etc. However, sometimes worries can overwhelm a child, to the point where they are worrying about the “what ifs” and thinking about everything in detail and are looking for those “what ifs”.

Sometimes this can affect them going to school or leaving your side to play with other children. The majority of children do go through a worry stage, but catching it early can benefit them in the long run from developing severe anxiety when they are older. Below I have listed some exercises and techniques for you to try out with your child and their worries.

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Make a Worry List.

Have your child make a list of all of their worries and fears, both big and small. Just the act of recognising and writing down worries can sometimes make the scary emotions seem less intimidating for your child. This allows you to identify which worries and fears you want to work on with your child, tackling one by one together.

Worries are like Tomatoes

A lot of the time worries can get stuck, for example, your child could feel nervous on the first day of school and can then start to feel nervous every day, even thou they know they don’t have anything to worry about. Explain to your child how tomatoes are grown. How a tiny seed is buried into the ground. If this seed is given a lot of attention and given water then it will grow bigger and bigger.

Explain that worries are just like tomatoes, we can help them grow bigger in our head by giving them attention. It is like we are feeding water to tomatoes. So, the more attention we give to a “what if” worry, the bigger and bigger it is going to get, just like tomatoes. So, every time your child is worrying about a “what of” scenario, remind them of the tomatoes, remind them not to be feeding the worries in our head.

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Buy them the Worry Plague

The worry plague is from the Irish Fairy Door Company, it’s an interactive worry plague. How it works, is that the child places their hand on the plague and tells the fairies their worry. The plaque glows red when the child hands touches it and when the fairies hear their worry and take it away, it turns green and their worry is gone.

The children can see it as magic. This is a fantastic idea by the Irish Fairy Door Company. This plague helps the children to let their worries out and once the plague turns red, they believe that the fairies have heard and taken their worry away. It’s a lovely idea and would make a fabulous gift this Christmas. This item is available for 34.95 at http://www.theirishfairydoorcompany.com/

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Create a Worry Time

The purpose of this technique is to help train your child to discipline their worry mind. So, set up a worry time for anytime throughout the day, preferably not before school. Then allocate 15 minutes each day where you will sit down and listen to your child’s worries.

Set an alarm on your phone for 15 minutes and once that alarm goes off, worry time is over! Your child can say whatever they want to say about their worries during this time, where you will listen and try to help. The one rule of this techniques is that there is to be no thinking or talking about worries unless it is worry time.

So, every time a worry comes into your child’s mind, they will create an imaginary worry box, where they will place the worry into this box and lock it up tight, until it is worry time. During worry time, everything put into this imaginary box can be talked about.

So, if your child starts talking about the “what if” worries, tell them to put it into their imaginary box and we will talk about it during worry time. You’d be surprised, by the time worry time comes, the worry that was upsetting them that morning doesn’t seem that big anymore. This will help your child to train their minds to discipline their “what if” worries.

To stop the worries from coming

To stop the worries from coming, have your child draw out a stop sign. Then, every time a “what if” worry comes into their mind, they will think of this STOP sign, which is to get them to stop thinking about that worry. Again this is getting them to train their mind to take control of the “what if” worries.

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Talking back to their worries

Explain to your child that worries are like a “thoughts bully” in your head. They try and get you to worry about everything so that you will get upset. Get them to stand up to the thoughts bully by telling the thoughts bully to “GO AWAY” or “GET LOST”. Or get your child to ignore the “thoughts bully”, by saying “thoughts bully alert”. This is a great techniques for children and it is a very understandable one for them too. You can even get them to draw what they think a thoughts bully would look like.

Bring them to talk to a professional

If you feel that your child has experienced a traumatic event that may be contributing to their worries, in this case, it may also be a good idea to bring them to a counsellor/psychotherapist or a play therapist. Play therapy is very appealing to young children, its considered a fun time for them while the professional is trained to examine their playing techniques, such as drawings, how their interacting with the toys and many more!

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Niamh-Psychotherapist xx 

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