Tag Archive for anxiety

How to Increase Your Child’s Anxiety

Today I had the opportunity to speak with several teens and college age adults. Each one expressed nervous anxiety about life. Many factors contribute to anxiety in people this age. After all, they are navigating a major life transition. Everything in their life is changing. Teens and young adults search to discover their place in an adult world. Decisions are becoming more life altering and consequences more serious. Knowledge previously practiced on paper now has to be applied in practical, real-life circumstances. New friends come into their life and old friends often drift away. These teens and college age adults desire greater independence but still find themselves depending on parents. All of this can create a great deal of nervous anxiety.
Parents can help reduce nervousness in their teen or young adult…or they can add anxiety to their child’s already growing case of nerves. In case you would like to increase your child’s anxiety as they navigate their transition into adult, here are five ways to help.
     ·         Always expect more than your child has achieved. If they get an 89% on a test, tell them they should have worked harder to get a 91%. When they do some chore around the house, complain about the part left undone. Never let them think they have done “good enough.” After all, you need them to pursue being the best. It’s a tough world out there.

·         Do not offer them any encouragement, thanks, or praise. They do not need to receive thanks for doing what is expected of them. They will not receive praise and encouragement when they get out in the real world; so toughen them up now. Instead of offering thanks or encouragement, simply point out the next task that needs finished.

·         Oh, along the same lines…never say “I love you;” they may get the wrong idea and think that they have already done enough to “earn your love.”

·         Do not trust them to make decisions on their own. Make all their decisions for them. You determine when they will go to bed and when they will get up. You control your house…and that means you control them. Do not give them responsibility; you manage it all. Some might say you are over-controlling, but you have to maintain total control if you want your child to grow up “a bundle of nerves.”

·         Keep a close eye on your child at all times. I do not mean to simply watch them—I mean overprotect them. Make sure they never experience any discomfort and never have to struggle. If you see them struggle, step right in there and take care of whatever they might struggle with. Whatever they get involved in, you become involved as well. Be actively involved in leading every activity in which they participate–from scouting to youth group to going out with friends. Never leave your children alone…they need your protection.
There you have it—five simple ways to create nervous anxiety in your children. If, on the other hand, you would rather your children learn to manage stress and become less anxious as they navigate the journey into adulthood, try these ideas:
     ·         Have fun with your child. Take time to play, laugh, and enjoy activities together.

·         Allow your child to perform less than perfect; in fact, let them fail at times. Do not rescue them from failing. We all learn great lessons through failures. An important lesson to learn is that we survive in spite of failure; and even more important, we grow through failure. So sit back and enjoy some minor failures. (
Click here to see a celebration of “failure.”)

·         Offer words of encouragement and thanks whenever possible. This will not weaken your children but strengthen them. Words of encouragement and gratitude let children know they are appreciated and admired. And, by the way, lay on the words of love and affirmation while you’re at it. When a person knows they are loved, they have less need to be anxious.

·         Teach your children problem-solving skills. As they learn these skills, let them make age appropriate decisions on their own. Begin to let your late teen make decisions regarding how late they stay up. Talk to them about the wisdom of their decision rather than forcing them to go to bed when you determine. This means giving your child an increasing amount of responsibility as they grow…and, allowing them to suffer the consequences of those decisions. Let them learn from the little decisions and mistakes as they grow so they will be better prepared to handle the big decisions of life.

·         Allow your children to experiment and explore. Feed their curiosity. Encourage them to explore. Yes, this can be a bit scary for a parent; but children learn to manage unexpected difficulties and unforeseen problems as they experiment and explore. They gain a sense of pride and personal power as they manage those difficulties. Let your children explore the world in age appropriate ways.

Preventing Anxiety & Insecurity in Children

Check out this amazing quote: “In our half-century of international research, we’ve not found any other class of experience that has as strong and consistent an effect on personality and personality development as does the experience of rejection, especially by parents in childhood.” Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut made this statement after reviewing multiple studies of families and children. To rephrase—nothing has a stronger and more consistent impact on children than the experience of rejection by a parent. That is a bold statement! He goes on to explain that children who feel rejection by their parents tend to feel more anxious and insecure, behave in a more hostile and aggressive way toward others, and even experience difficulty forming secure, trusting relationships as adults. This researcher also noted that perceived rejection activates the same part of the brain as actual physical pain. Rejection hurts and the person who experiences rejection can relive that pain over and over again for years.
Children can feel rejected for many reasons. Perhaps they truly do have a rejecting parent. More likely, children have parents who do not actively reject them. Instead, they have parents who do not look up from the paper when their children talk to them…or parents that expend so much time and energy at work that they have no energy left for family…or parents who spend more time with their buddies, their hobbies, their yard, or their project than they do with their children. In each of these cases, children may feel rejected. Why? Because children sense that whatever takes up a parent’s time or attention is the parent’s top priority…everything else is simply rejected, even if that something else is them.
Of course, the flip side of rejection is acceptance. When children feel the unconditional acceptance of parents, they feel more secure and confident, they will more easily develop trusting relationships with others, and they learn to resolve difficulties without hostility and aggression. How can you make your child feel accepted? Here are a few hints:
     ·         Spend time talking and playing with them each day. Instead of you directing the play, let them lead. Play what they want to play and follow their lead in play.
·         Notice and describe their actions. Whether you acknowledge that they set the table or colored the dog red, your children learn that you notice them…and, if you notice them, you accept them.
·         Find ways to tell your children “yes.” Of course, you will have to say “no” sometimes, but look for the “yeses” as well. For instance, you may have to say, “No, you can’t go swimming today” but can you add in a “yes” like, “You could go tomorrow (or some other day)”? You will have to say, “No, you can’t play with that.” But, you can add a “yes” by simply saying, “Here, why don’t you play with this instead?” Finding ways to tell your child “yes” informs them that you want them to enjoy life, you accept their curiosity, and you accept their desire to remain active. You simply help them direct that energy in a positive direction.
·         Spend time with your child. Nothing spells love and acceptance like “T-I-M-E.”
·         Laugh with your children. Tell jokes. Be silly. Enjoy a funny show. Make fun of yourself a little bit at times. Teach them to not take life “too seriously,” but to enjoy life along the way.
·         Encourage your children.
·         Surprise your children with little spontaneous gifts or cards. These gifts can range from bringing home a rock for your little rock collector to downloading a new song for the budding musician in your family to cooking a special treat for the young culinary artist.
·         Spend time learning about your children’s interests and asking them about those interests. Pick up a book on that interest. Take them to a related store. Hook them up with another person who has a similar interest. Take up the interest yourself and use that interest as a vehicle to spend time with your child.
·         Did I say spend time with your child?
Engaging in behaviors and interactions that make your children feel accepted will yield amazing dividends. Your children will feel more secure and confident and, as a result, engage in more appropriate behavior. They will more easily develop trusting relationships with others, avoiding dangerous relationships and relationships that can derail them into negative behaviors. They will learn to resolve difficult situations with integrity and honor. They will grow up remembering a loving family and wonderful times.
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