As a parent, you naturally want to do whatever you can to help your child, and when they start showing signs of withdrawing from the world, it can be difficult to know what to do. If you have noticed signs of child withdrawal due to life changes that are causing anxiety, keep reading.
Life changes are hard for everyone. It can take time to adapt. However, we want the best for our kids and we want to see them happy. It must break your heart to see your little girl struggling to make friends.
A typical reaction of parents and children is to try to avoid the cause of the anxiety. However, avoiding situations is only a “band-aid” solution, and often makes things worse. It’s essential to help kids identify and challenge negative thoughts that are feeding their anxiety.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Allow your child to feel the feeling. Saying things such as “Your friends are very nice. You should go to the party” will only make your child feel inadequate. Instead, try saying “I can see this situation (describe the situation) is making you feel anxious/worried. Could you tell me what is going through your mind right now?”
2. IDENTIFY AND CHANGE UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS.
Often, we feel fear because our thoughts predict failure and tell us to expect the worse. We trick ourselves into believing that things will go wrong, and we won’t be successful. This can happen in two ways:
The fortune-teller in our mind thinks they know what will happen:
“If I go to the party nobody will talk to me.”
“If I invite someone to come to my house, they will say no.”
Our mind reader thinks they know what everyone is thinking:
“They are inviting me because they have to. They don’t really like me.”
“They think I’m different because I’m not from this town.”
Identify with your child what kind of thoughts she is having and ask her to put her thought to the test. What are the chances that her predictions will happen? Start with something small and build up from there.
You can use our THINKING TRAP printable to explore your child’s predicting thoughts.
If you are interested in working on your child’s fears, you may want to consider our BRAVERY Value Guide.