It's Good to Talk

There is truth in the platitude. In this blog I'm exploring why you should talk to kids about anxiety.

I have worked with literally hundreds of families with anxious children. Most of these parents have told me that they try to hide their anxiety and worry from their kids because they want to protect them. Understandably, they don't want them to worry and would do anything to just see them happy and carefree.

When kids are small parents teach them about all kinds of emotions and talk to them about feeling happy, sad, jealous, angry etc. But rarely do they talk to them about anxiety.

Recently, I asked the parents in my Facebook group how they know when their child is anxious. The response was a very resounding list of common features of anxiety - tummy aches, crying, shaking, meltdowns, withdrawing, getting angry, difficulty breathing etc etc.

Most parents are pretty clear on the tell tale signs that their child is struggling with something. So here's the thing......

If you can tell when your child is anxious, they can tell when there is something wrong with you too. Think about what happens when you're feeling under pressure. I tend to get more irritable and just want to hide away. We all have our tell tale signs.

The problem with trying to protect kids from this and not talking about it with them or in front of them, they know that something is wrong and make their own assumptions. This can make them worry anyway. It also sends the message that it's not something we talk about and the way we deal with it is keeping it inside to ourselves. 

By keeping schtum parents are missing an opportunity to help develop their child's emotional intelligence and positive coping strategies. When parents start to open up and talk more freely about their worries and situations that make them nervous (of course I'm talking about age appropriate stuff, not necessarily the nitty gritty of real adult life), it has a number of benefits:

* Kids come to understand that it's normal. All that stuff that feels horrible happens to mum/dad too so it's not just something wrong with them.

* It gives them an understanding of what anxiety is and gives them a way to express how they feel.

* It's an opportunity to model good, positive coping strategies.

* It opens the door to them talking more freely about it when they worry.

So many of the parents I have worked with who have started talking more openly have reported that they have noticed a real difference - meltdowns become less frequent, kids are less afraid of becoming anxious and they are more likely to open up and talk about their worries.

In summary, it's good to talk! 

If you talk to your kids about anxiety that's great, keep up the good work. If you don't, then give it a go and see what happens. What have you got to lose?

Don't forget to drop me an email at and let me know how you get on.

Categories: : Coaching, parenting, psychological wellbeing, Supporting Children