As a parent, it breaks my heart every time I see my children upset or sad but what do you do as a parent when your child is nervous or afraid? Do you talk to them or let them be? Do you hug them? Do you let them cry it out then have them learn to comfort themselves? There is just too much conflicting advice out here but here are some tried and tested tips for comforting a fearful or nervous child.
- Be there
For most children, being there with them will help them feel calm. Your presence alone will give them a sense of security. Hug them, let them sit on your lap, hold their hand. This will comfort them and help them ease their nervousness.
- Do not be too involved
Yeah do not “spoonfeed” them. In as much as you will be there for them, do not tell them exactly what to do. Let them be somewhat independent and that they grow to be their own people, develop strong decision-making skills and that they do not let tense situations get into them.
- Get Moving
Physical activities are great to help calm down your child. Just like when dealing with anxiety in adults, you can indulge in physical activities such as cart wheels, headstands, jumping on the trampoline. These activities will help distract your child from what is worrying them which helps to calm their nervousness.
- Encourage them to participate in activities
When children avoid activities that make them nervous, the fear in them never goes away. Learning to ride a bike or swim for instance could make some children nervous and learning the same is a tough struggle. As a parent, therefore, encourage your child that is fearful of the same, take them to a park where other children his or her age are doing it and let them ease into the activity.
- Talk it out
Speak with your child about what is causing them to be fearful. Listen to them and have a heart-to-heart conversation with them. Wait till they are calm before you can listen to what they have to say. When responding to them, do not be overly reassuring as using words like “Everything will be okay” actually reinforces to the child that there is something to be worried about.
As silly as it may seem, empathize with your child. Let them know that that you understand what they are going through and that you can relate with them. These are just some of the tips for comforting a fearful or nervous child.