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Ask Sarah: How to Help with Anxiety and Build Confidence

Parenting expert Sarah Rosensweet shares tips for helping your kiddo overcome anxiety and build the confidence to enjoy activities

Ask Sarah: How to Help with Anxiety and Build Confidence

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Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

Have a question for Sarah? Send us an email at editors@todaysparent.com.

Little girl sitting on a couch looking nervous Getty / bradleyhebdon

Q: How can I help my nervous child before any new activity (or even activities she has done week over week for the last year)? Once she’s in the class, she has a great time and is always happy, but getting her there is challenging. I want her to feel safe and heard, but if I let her, she would never join in. 

- Mom of a four-year-old

A: You are not alone! I hear this from so many parents. Our brains have a very effective system of keeping us safe from danger. That often looks like anxiety around transitions away from the present, comfortable moment.

Start with normalizing her nerves. I’d say, “It’s hard leaving the house when you’re so cozy and comfortable here. You know what? Everyone feels that way sometimes! Even Mama! Sometimes I don’t want to go to (insert some activity that you do), but I remind myself that I can handle it and always have a good time once I get there. I know you can handle it too!”

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It’s essential to keep it light and express confidence in her ability to keep moving. Then, give her something to work toward to help her get over the hump of the transition. For example, “Do you want to choose the music we listen to in the car on the way there?” or, “How about we play I Spy on the way to the pool?”

Another thing you might try is an “exit interview” after her activity. Record her talking about what she liked best about the activity on your phone. Then, play it for her through the week and before you have to leave so she’ll remember she does, in fact, like it. Anxiety tends to make us forget how we really feel about something.

If this doesn’t work, she may need some tools for managing anxiety. You can teach her about how her brain works and coach her to “talk back” to her amygdala. A great place to start is with this blog post, and with the work of Lynn Lyons. Good luck!

Need support with other parenting challenges? Our Ask Sarah series covers topics like how to reduce bedtime struggles and how to prepare for playdates.

Author:

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Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.

Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”

Sarah offers a free course, How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids, so that you can be the parent you want to be. Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com  or listen to her top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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