Got a Nervous Nellie on your hands? Or a child who tends to latch on and not let go of irrational fears? Writing your child’s story and sharing it with them can help make their anxieties a little easier to handle. And when kids get to see coping tools over and over in a story, it makes it easier to remember what they are and how to use them when their anxiety and fears start to take control.
This story template will make it easy to write your child's story about their anxieties and fears and how they can overcome them.
Think about the following:
What are your child’s strengths? What are they good at? What do they love?
Include loved ones. Who is a regular source of support for them?
Be sure to label feelings when introducing what they’re working on. Do they feel scared? Anxious? Like an ice cube? Use the language they use to label their feelings, and they’ll really connect with it.
Be sure to identify what their body does in the difficult situation. Do they freeze up? Cry? Helping your child understand their physical symptoms can help them access their tools before their lizard brain (or flight-or-fight response) kicks in.
List three to five tools, describing them in the same simple language you use when you practice with your child. This could be a reminder to take a deep breath, ask you for help, or put on their courage bracelet (get some more ideas here). And be sure to have at least one tool that reminds your child that YOU are one of their primary tools.
Remind your child that their fears or worries don’t control them, and that with practice and support, they have power to overcome them.
Choose some pictures (photos, your child's drawings, images from websites, etc.) to help center your child’s focus on the page and make the story more interesting.
If your child is old enough, get their input on each of the steps (and gently guide them if they’re not sure), and write the story together. If your child is too young for that, no problem. Write what you've observed, and let them give you feedback as you go.
Read the story with your child regularly in a way that’s bonding, snuggly and connecting. Never force it, though. You want your child to associate coping tools with happy, positive experiences.
When your child has used one of the tools recently, be sure to remind them of that as you’re reading (“I noticed you were taking some deep breaths today. You’re learning to be so brave!”). You can find a sample of a story below (just click through the pages).
In HelloJoey’s “The Young & the Anxious” kit, you can learn more about the science behind the anxiety, fear, and worry that some of our kids experience and how we can provide a safe environment where they can express these feelings and overcome them. Plus, you'll discover activities and practical things you can do with and without your child to help both of you deal with troublesome anxiety.
Want to learn more about “The Young & the Anxious?” Start your path to a solid parenting foundation in just 10 minutes a day. Check out the HelloJoey app.