Parents' Guide To Helping Anxious Kids With New Year's Resolutions

Childhood anxiety is a struggle for many adolescents. The ever-changing nature of their bodies and social expectations can seem overwhelming, making it challenging to focus and relax. As a parent of an anxious child or teen, you want to do everything in your power to limit their exposure to natural stressors. However, overprotection is often equally stifling to a growing boy or girl. You do not help your kids develop healthy coping mechanisms by restricting experiences, contributing instead to potential insecurity and fear.

One way to help your anxious child build confidence and learn that they can take control of their life, is by focusing on the holiday season, particularly New Year’s resolutions. Many parents of children with anxiety fear the resolution process because they worry about creating unintended pressure with a high risk of failure. But if you help your child make resolutions that are manageable and obtainable, you might see a surge of confidence in the New Year. By following this guide of five ways to help an anxious child, you can help your child start the year on a positive track:

1. Be a Resolution Role Model

While resolutions can lead to confidence and focus, you cannot ask your children to do something you are unwilling to do yourself, especially when raising an anxious child. Your child needs to see you work toward a goal, but more importantly, they need to see you continue to try even after failing. Kids with anxiety often suffer from a fear of failure or embarrassment. If you can show that failure is not the end of a journey but part of it, your child can better understand life, obstacles, and success.

Often, a child with anxiety creates expectations or goals for themselves that are illogical or too ambitious, meaning that chances for failure are significant. If you can show them how to create realistic and attainable resolutions, the fear and worry may subside, making the process more fun and exciting.

If you want to help your child cope with their anxiety, try suggesting that you and they practice mindfulness as a family resolution for 2021. While it may sound challenging, learning how to introduce mindfulness to your kids can be a great bonding experience and relaxing for you both! You can make a resolution to work on this together in the New Year. You can start by practicing breathing exercises every day at a specific time or having a time set aside to share your feelings openly. By making a combined resolution, you can help your child follow through and show your commitment, being a good resolution role model.

2. Choose Achievable Resolutions

Stress the importance of achievable resolutions. The purpose of New Year's promises is to encourage positive change, demonstrating the persevering spirit of humanity. Too many people look at resolutions as cosmetic surgery for psychological imperfections. People make promises to lose weight, put aside anger, be less afraid, or be more compassionate. While all admirable goals, you must evaluate a promise's rationality and weigh it against the drive for the change. Sometimes a simple goal of losing weight is not a healthy choice or a feasible choice. Promising to put aside anger can lead to pent up aggression that only creates greater animosity and divide among relationships. The resolution must fit the person and personality, making growth and positive, realistic change the focus.

For an anxious child, the goal might be practicing affirmations, meditation, or some other activity to boost confidence. The idea is to choose something that is not too far outside of their comfort zone. For example, if your child suffers from crippling social anxiety, a resolution to sign up with a group activity or large social gathering is likely too much too soon. However, perhaps they can make a resolution to go out to eat with the family once a week or talk to a new person once a month. Make the resolutions small, manageable, and achievable, so your child can find the strength to spread their proverbial wings. This will also create the opportunity to celebrate smaller successes that can be encouraging to keep going!

3. Get the Whole Family Involved

Work toward New Year’s resolutions together as a family for the best chance of success. While it can seem challenging to find a goal that everyone can work toward, a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle is always worth your time. Brillia’s Holistic 5 Pillars are a great way to start, with a few of them focusing on four critical areas of health:

  1. Better nutrition
  2. Adequate sleep
  3. Mindfulness or relaxation
  4. Less screen time and more quality family time

Focusing on health and wellness is something you can do as a family, and it is something with measurable and manageable objectives. For example, improving nutritional habits can start by reducing the amount of fast food you eat in a month, or planning a family night when you all help prepare dinner together. To improve sleep, you can set a “no screen time” hour for everyone in the household before bedtime! A family resolution is an excellent way to ensure accountability and teamwork without increasing stress or distance between family members. It can actually be a bonding experience for everyone.

4. Set Them Up for Success

An anxious child needs reassurance and encouragement. You need to take on the role of cheerleader, but you do not want to get naggy. To set up your child for success, make sure they have what they need physically and emotionally from you. Do not be afraid to ask specifics.

Beyond being their emotional support, you want to help guide them to manageable resolutions. Depending on their age, some kids may need more support and guidance than others. For example, a teenager may not want handholding at all, but remember you need to be present, regardless. A resolution is hard enough without anxiety, but worry can make the process nearly impossible, especially when the child feels alone. So, supporting your child at the level they need is key! Also helps to remind your child that progress is not constantly positive, progress includes mistakes and taking a few steps backwards sometimes. 

5. Quick List of Do's & Don'ts

Just looking for the main points of this guide? You can sum up everything with a quick list of dos and don’ts.

  • Do set resolutions
  • Help your child set achievable goals
  • Do work together as a family
  • Remind your child that missteps are part of the process and growth 
  • Be a positive role model
  • Don’t push your child too hard
  • Be encouraging of the smallest steps toward improvement

Resolutions can seem challenging to anxious kids, but successful implementation can boost confidence. You can help your child learn more about Brillia's 5 Pillars  for specific goals and resolutions to set for 2021 to help them apply these healthier lifestyle choices to manage their symptoms. And if they still need a little more support, then you can consider using Brillia, a  non-prescription gentle product to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, hyperactivity, lack of attention and focus, and mood regulation.

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