Teach your Child How to Fight Anxiety

Teach your Child How to Fight Anxiety….and be a Super Hero!

for a quick video lesson on how to parent your anxious child click here.

Take this quick 4 minute video lesson and learn how to parent your anxious child.
Teaching your child how to fight anxiety can start at a very young age. I have worked with children as young as two and three that were able to learn skills on how to face their fears. So, roll up your sleeves and start arming your child with skills to overcome their anxiety. It is never too early to turn your little one into a superhero!

Does your child have fears? Teach your child to fight their fears and overcome their anxiety.

 

My Mold Detective

episode 1: DEVELOP YOUR LITTLE SUPERHERO

Set the Battle Ground

Have your child name their worries. Sometimes this will just be Mr. Worry, but you can pick something more specific based on your child’s fears (Mr. Bossy, Mr. Bugs, Mr. Scared, Mr. Sick etc.). Tell them that Mr. Scared likes to boss kids around and make them fearful. Have them create a worthy superhero to fight off Mr. Scared. I like to use the child’s name with Super in front of it (Super John, Super Amber, etc.). Have them draw a picture of Mr. Scared and of their superhero. Prompt them to make the superhero look like them in some way.

Dress the Superhero

Children love dress up and there is something transforming when one is dressed as a superhero. Have your child pick out a superhero costume
that they can wear when they are a fighting Mr. Scared. A cape and a mask are always good places to start. If they have a particular superhero that they love – have them dress up as that instead.

Give them the back story

Set the stage for your child by giving them their superhero story. Incorporate your child’s fears into the story. Their story might go something like:

There once was a mean, bossy guy named Mr. Scared. Mr. Scared liked to go around bullying kids and making them feel scared. Every time Mr. Scared was able to make a kid feel scared, he would grow bigger. Super John wasn’t going to let Mr. Scared grow any bigger! When Mr. Scared started telling him to be scared of the dark, Super John didn’t listen to him! He knew he could turn on the lights.

Put on Your Game Face

In my house we have a “Brave Face” pose. Whenever anyone is scared to do something – we say, “Brave face!” and we all put our heads up high and proud. Sometimes duck lips are included. Sometimes it is a full superhero pose – arms on hips, chest pushed out. It is a nice way to empower each other and it encourages us to fight through our fears. At the very least, it lightens the mood and makes us all laugh.

episode 2: SEND YOUR SUPERHERO OUT TO BATTLE

Verbally encourage your superhero

Having your child dressed and feeling empowered is only half the battle. Now they will need actual experiences to challenge and fight Mr. Scared. You want to encourage your child’s independence by giving them the least amount of assistance they need during these challenges. First start by giving them verbal support. You can say things like, “Don’t let Mr. Scared win this battle! Where is Super John? Do you need to get your cape on? Show me the Brave face!!”

Give suggestions to your superhero

Give your superhero some suggestions. You can say, “I know it seems dark upstairs, but there is a light switch right there you can turn on.” Or another suggestion might be something like, “We can sing together as you go upstairs so you know I am still right here.”

Offer limited support to your superhero

When your superhero is lacking some any superpowers – it may be time to call in for back up. The main goal is for your child to feel success, so if you have come to the conclusion that Mr. Scared is definitely going to win the battle, get your kiddo’s back!

Offer the least amount of intervention as possible. This might be turning the light on for them or walking half way up the stairs with them. Always premise your assistance with something like, “Okay Super John I will make you a deal. I will turn on the light for you if you do the rest” or “I will go up the first flight of stairs, if you go up the rest.” Getting your child to agree on a plan makes it more likely that they will stick with it…sometimes. If that doesn’t work – pleading helps – “Don’t let Mr. Scared win! I know you can beat him!”

Okay, if all else fails, bribe your superhero!

I know that if someone told me to jump off a high dive there would very little that anyone could say to get me to do it. However, if the price was right – I might be encouraged to face my fears and try to do it. When all else fails offer a “challenge prize.” I will often have families set up a “challenge treasure box
” that is filled with dollar store toys and prizes. When your child is faced with a particularly hard challenge, you can offer a challenge prize if they try to do it. You want your child to push themselves just slightly out of their comfort zone. If they are able to do this, but don’t fully complete the challenge you can say, “You were amazing! I know that was scary for you, but you went ahead anyway and tried to do it! You get a challenge prize for being so brave!”

 

Children don’t turn into superheroes overnight, but if you don’t give your child the skills to fight their fears, they have lost the battle before it has even begun.

 

This post is part of the Raising Resilient Children series. Click the image below to find more tips from mental health professionals!

resilient children

Do you know an anxious teen? Give them the only self-help book teens are likely to read:

Finally a teen anxiety book that teens will want to read!


For more articles on toddler anxiety follow Anxious Toddlers Pinterest board:
Follow Anxious Toddlers’s board TODDLER – Anxious toddlers on Pinterest.

For more in-depth help get the book How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler

A must read toddler parenting book! How to Parent your Anxious Toddler. By child therapist and toddler mental health expert.

Other books on helping children fight fears on Amazon:

For 20% off the video course How to Parent Your Anxious Kids click below:

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34 responses to “Teach your Child How to Fight Anxiety”

  1. Melissa says:

    This is great advice. My kids like wearing Superhero capes. I like the idea of using a story to help them fight anxiety! #ManicMondaysBlogHop
    Melissa recently posted…How to Do the Laundry, With Kids, in 22 StepsMy Profile

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Thanks for stopping by! My kids love capes too. I think they are in capes and underwear more than clothes!!

  2. Gayle says:

    Hi Natasha,

    What a coincidence that I came across this post today at “Mondays parenting pin it party”

    This week I have had my first encounter with Toddler nightmares. One of my Triplets has started waking in the night thinking that there are spiders in his bed.
    He loves dressing up as a super-hero so I think this strategy might just work with him!
    Thanks for sharing

    Gayle.
    Gayle recently posted…5 Homemade snacks that will keep your Toddlers hunger at bay.My Profile

  3. Aww this is a great post, so useful. It’s hard enough fighting off our anxieties and fears as adults, I always feel for the little ones when they have a wobbly moment.

    I use a lot of storytelling, talking openly, sharing my own fears and anxieties and how I try to manage them, and also reminding them of times they overcame their wobbles and shone!

    One of the biggest hurdles was nightmares – my eldest went through a patch when he was much younger, and I made up a fun song called ‘Bad Dreams’ that we sing at the top of our lungs to scare any bad dreams away. We always wind up in giggles and that does the trick. I think laughter is a great detractor for any fears, large or small. Thanks for sharing this 🙂
    Babes about Town recently posted…Against Captain’s Orders: A Journey into the Uncharted (Babes Review)My Profile

  4. Great Post! I love the idea of using a story and supper heroes to help with their anxiety!

  5. Stacey says:

    Great advice. My oldest is a very anxious child. I want him to have fun, but he has quite a few fears and doesn’t like to be around many people.

  6. Haley says:

    A great post! I guess it’s time to get some capes!
    Haley recently posted…Laugh and Learn – Homeschool and Parenting Linkup 30My Profile

  7. Thank you for sharing this great advice. My grandson suffers from anxiety and these tips are great helpers.

  8. I love this article and echo all the above comments! I also love the superhero reference and have used similar references to help child manage other feelings and emotions! Thanks for this great intervention!

  9. This is a thoroughly wonderful post — thank you so much for it!

  10. Aly says:

    What a informative post.Thanks for joining the Parenting Pin-It Party.Don’t forget to join in again tomorrow over on my blog.

  11. Haley says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Anxiety and fear are such a hard thing for parents to overcome. I just want to let you know I selected you to be featured in the Laugh & Learn Link-up.

    Sincerely,
    Haley

    http://haleysvintage.com/laugh-and-learn-linkup/laugh-and-learn-homeschool-and-parenting-linkup-30/

  12. Nina says:

    I hadn’t heard of labeling the emotions as Mr. but we definitely label the emotions in our home. It helps now that they can say the words, too. I find it’s important for them to be able to name it and also understand that it’s normal and comes and goes.

  13. […] toilet. Take a balloon and blow it up and show me it can’t be flushed down because it is too big. Teach me to fight my fears and turn the light on myself. Give me fiber gummies so my bottom doesn’t hurt when I poop. I […]

  14. […] How to teach your child how to fight their fears […]

    • Hi Okay great starting point and I have tried these but my child fill not use the school bathroom. She refuses to her teacher and is 75 percent of the time not using the bathroom all day to 25 percent having an accident. I have tried all of these and we have been very encouraging to her–She floats between reasons-too loud as it does echo, toilet overflowing. We have also done imagery with her completing the task and reviewed with her having to lock/unlock stall, how to crawl under stall in case she gets stuck. We have tried ear plugs,cotton balls, allowing her to not flush the toilet-going on her own vs a group. Nothing has worked and when I ask her if she will try to go when I drop her off at school –there is a true wave of fear that comes over her face and she says I don’t think so or one time she said yes–We also have her trying to say affirmations–“I can do this, I can try” and even praying to god to help help and giver her courage-but nothing has worked. It started 5 school days ago-4 days all day without going and 1 day with an accident. Any thoughts/ideas appreciated. We are scheduled to see pediatrician next week. Oh and yes I have tried bribes–her beloved shopkins and even tried a punishment of a biithday party that she had to miss did not help. She will use bathrooms at the hockey rink, when we are out to eat- somewhat hesitant but she will go. She is 7

      • Natasha Daniels says:

        Hi Michelle – I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s struggle. Anxiety can be so intense some times! It sounds like you tried some great ideas. Unfortunately anxiety can take some time to work through. I would definitely seek out the help of a child therapist – as you need some professional support and possibly ongoing help.

        In the meanwhile, I like how you offered earplugs and the option to not flush – often that is enough to help an anxious child with bathroom fears. Since that didn’t work – perhaps talking to the school nurse or if you have a school counselor – they can arrange for her to go to the bathroom in their office. Sometimes having a quiet place where there is an adult in the other room can help.

        This would of course be a bandaid until you get some professional help and develop a plan on how to work on her anxiety long term.

        Punishments never work on anxiety, but reinforcers sometimes do. I hope you find some good support in your community!

        • michelle k says:

          Thanks for your help and support–yes we will carry on and keep up supporting and trying to pump her up. We have the option to use the teacher bathroom so we will go to that tomorrow as needed. She has to learn first to take care of herself. It is just amazing the fear in her face–other things she is amazingly fearless but this has got her.

  15. […] For articles and videos on how to help your child with anxiety you can watch this Video on how to parent an anxious child or read the article Teach Your Child to Fight Anxiety […]

  16. […] I have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous post (click here to read). […]

  17. […] Teach your Child How to Fight Anxiety […]

  18. […] have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous article (click here to […]

  19. […] have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous article (click here to […]

  20. […] have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous article (click here to […]

  21. […] have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous article (click here to […]

  22. […] your child fight their fears will eventually end the bedtime battles. You can read books that address their worries and teach […]

  23. […] Name your child’s anxiety and work as a team to defeat it. In a perfect world you don’t want to accommodate the anxiety. As parents, it can be so hard to watch our children suffer. It is very tempting to help your child avoid anxiety-producing situations. […]

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