Thursday, July 23, 2009

anxiety-proofing your child

My daughter Lizzy (10) was having an anxious morning.

She'd been away from school for 2 weeks, and was returning to school carrying an enormous eye-catching poster for a project which was late (necessarily!). She was worried that other children might stare at her on the way into school, and that she might be the only child presenting her project to the class that day.

It was one of those golden opportunities for teaching your child how to deal with anxiety. So often, I miss these opportunities altogether. Here's how it went the other day - or how I would have liked it to go! Actually, I forgot point 1 altogether, and forgot point 5 until 10 minutes after our conversation!

1. sympathise
"Yes, it's really hard when you're worried about people looking at you because you're doing something different, isn't it? I don't like people looking at me, either."

2. bring God's truth to bear on the situation
"It doesn't matter what people think of you. What matters is what God thinks of you, and he loves you in Jesus."

3. bring common sense into the situation (replace catastrophic thinking with more realistic thinking)
"The other kids probably won't even notice or think it's odd anyway. Your teacher knows the project will be late - I told her the other day. It's unlikely she will ask you to be the only child presenting your project today."

4. get prepared for the most difficult outcome
"If you were asked to give your project, you actually know the topic pretty well by now! You could say ..."

5. pray
"Would you like to pray together about what's worrying you?"

6. follow up
"Are you feeling any less anxious now?" (She was! If she wasn't, I guess I would have talked about being courageous in the face of our fears - if I'd thought of it!)

7. hug
Well, that's what happened next, anyhow!

Just a little snapshot of life, and how I'm trying to teach my children the same lessons I'm learning about turning to God in our anxieties and putting our trust in him.

(She didn't have to do the presentation - nor was she the only child carrying her project into school! - that day.)

image is from treblig at flickr

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