Children can absorb your fears as they watch you while they grow up, and can hinder their growth. Here are a few strategies to avoid it from happening.
There are a lot of parents who have very specific fears and/or are predisposed to anxiety and they are constantly afraid that their children might develop the same fears and be prone to anxiety like they are. This is not an irrational fear as children tend to pick up fears by observing their parents behavior. For instance, a parent who is afraid of heights generally avoids situations in which they (and, in turn, their kids) are exposed to high places. When they are faced with such situations their children happen to see their fears take over and by observing this behavior, children tend to pick up these fears. The younger they are, the more prone they are to learning such fears. This isn't something any parent wants. Here are a few methods by which you can completely avoid them from picking up the 'unwanted' things.
There are ways in which you can deal with your fears but it takes time and you never know when you will be exposed to your fears. Parents are the first role models in a child's life but this does not mean that they can't have other role models. Make sure you allow other adults in your life to be role models for your child and let them model to them the lack of fear. Even just pointing out to other adults in your child's life when you are faced with a persistent fear, showing them other ways in which people react to the object or the situation helps them learn various other, non-fearful behaviors.
A major thing to pay attention to is the language we use in front of our children. Anxious parents tend to ask their children to "be careful" a lot of times in various situations. According to psychologists, this phrase is said to be too "non-specific" and too "repetitive" in order for it to be useful during the child's development. Instead of just asking them to be careful, parents must differentiate and focus on safety and danger signs. By differentiating the signs and explaining the situations to them in a positive language, you enhance problem-solving skills in your children.
Children love listening to bedtime stories or stories while they are eating. This is an opportunity for you to create your own stories or add a few twists in existing stories and teach them how not to be afraid. You can use the stories to show how characters use various strategies to cope in situations where they feel afraid or upset. Make sure these stories are always related to life lessons like being compassionate or being patient. But also try to keep them light and avoid overdoing them or repeating the stories or the lessons over and over again. Talk to their teachers and their librarians and get those books that deal with fears and how to overcome it.
Don't let your adult problems become a source of worry for your kids. There are times when parents share their worries with their children simply because they feel like the kids are very mature for their age. Let them worry about their own lives for a while and learn on their own. They cannot help you with your difficulties so there is no point in even sharing it with them. They won't even be able to understand or advise you in any way. Let them start to deal with such adult problems when they grow up.
Being able to label your emotions helps you better understand them. This doesn't just apply for adults but for children as well so take the effort in making your kids understand and know the emotions they feel. A child predisposed with anxiety is very familiar with that particular emotion but that is not the case when it comes to other emotions they face. They need to learn about them and be aware of what exactly they are feeling. As a parent or a role model, we need to encourage the children to speak up. Let them talk about what exactly they are going through and how they are feeling. This way they will also learn on how they are supposed to deal with such emotions.
The media tends to highlight the bad news that can increase the levels of anxiety in us and, in turn, in children. They may get the information from the TV, newspapers or even their friends. Children have a habit of raising questions when they don't understand things (a behavior that should be encouraged), so when they do raise questions about the news, answer them in the best way that you can. Make sure to put a filter on the details. Also, make sure to keep a check on what they are exposed to when they watch on TV or on the internet. Overexposure can lead to an increase in the intensity of their fears.
While teaching our children how to cope with their fears and other situations they find themselves in, we should make sure to use strategies and solutions that have worked for us or others in the past. While giving examples, we should keep in mind that they need to have evidence otherwise there remains doubt regarding the particular strategy in use and this can intensify anxiety instead of reducing it.
The only way in which we can teach our kids how to understand their anxiety best and how to cope with them effectively is if we ourselves have a good understanding of it. We cannot help our children with something we ourselves are not sure about. In such cases, there is no harm in taking them to a therapist and letting the professionals help them learn how to deal with things. Here's a tip, verbalize your strategies. This way you tend to feel less anxious and at the same time, you are sure that your child is picking up whatever you are saying and will someday use the same methods too.