How to Help Your Kids Reframe Their Anxiety and Reclaim Their Superpowers
Every child feels anxious at times — but for some, that feeling persists and interferes with friendships and schoolwork.
Renee Jain, founder of GoZen!, an online platform to help kids manage their anxiety, and Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist, are authors of Superpowered: Transform Anxiety Into Courage, Confidence and Resilience.
They believe anxiety is normal, but that instead of accepting it, we try and reject, diminish or get rid of the feeling.
All children are born with superpowers, Jain and Tsabary write, that get ‘zapped’ as they grow older. The book is chock full of examples and exercises for kids to get back their natural abilities, which the authors say, helps them manage their anxiety.
Here are some ways to help your child manage their anxiety — or reclaim their superpowers.
Encourage kids to make friends with their worry
Jain and Tsabary say it isn’t helpful to tell children not to worry, even when it’s coming from a place of love. The authors believe “worry has purpose, worry has benefits, worry is good for you.” They encourage children to personify their anxiety: “When you are able to take a feeling that can be abstract and hard to wrap your head around, and you create a character and you personify it, that makes it concrete for kids,” Jain says.
Help them assess risk
When a child feels really anxious, the feeling overpowers the part of their brain that thinks logically about risk.
Encourage your anxious child to write out the best thing that can happen in a certain situation, the worst thing that can happen and the most likely outcome. Jain says exploring different outcomes helps a child better assess the real probability of something happening.
Encourage them to be mindful
The “chaos and the busyness” of kids’ lives interferes with their natural mindfulness, Jain and Tsabary say. They suggest encouraging children to notice the thoughts that pass through their minds, but recognize they have the choice to accept the thought or not.
She says just teaching children that they’re in charge of which thoughts they respond to is a “huge empowering technique.”
Help them reframe their thoughts
Children are like everyone else: they want to fit in. So an exercise the authors suggest is helping children reframe their struggles. Using their ‘supervision’ glasses, they can change the narrative, from ‘what is wrong with me’ into a celebration of themselves.
She says reframing helps “teach children to stop trying to become something they’re not and shift to realizing the potential of what they already are.”
Encourage a growth mindset
Jain urges parents to promote a “growth mindset” to help children deal with anxiety.
“So if you are actually going to cultivate a growth mindset in your child where they feel like they can do anything that they put their mind to, the only way…is for them to begin to act upon their belief system,” says Jain. She says teaching them how to interpret challenges is a starting point for growth.
Excerpted from “How To Help Your Kids Reframe Their Anxiety — And Reclaim Their Superpowers” on NPR. Read the full article online for more strategies.
Listen to the 18-minute NPR podcast featuring Renee Jain, founder of GoZen! and clinical psychologist, Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Source: NPR | How To Help Your Kids Reframe Their Anxiety — And Reclaim Their Superpowers, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/11/933797230/how-to-help-your-kids-reframe-their-anxiety-and-reclaim-their-superpowers | © 2020 npr
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