I feel like parents who lived through COVID with their kiddos earned special badges for this aspect of parenting. But it can be a hard place to be, especially in the teen years. I wanted to share some strategies I have used in the past to hopefully add to your parenting “toolbox” of ideas.
Deep breathing. The way I teach this strategy is with counting. Take a deep breath in through your nose (1….2….3) and let it out through your mouth (1….2…..3……4). The counting offers a concrete way to slow the breathing down so that it is actually helpful. Huffing and puffing do not help you calm down (and could make you hyperventilate).
Journaling. As an adult who blogs, I guess it is not shocking that I think writing helps with worries. I am also a fan of columns – things you CAN control and things you CANNOT control. Worrying about things you cannot control is not productive. And of course, that is always easier said than done. But sometimes seeing the things you can and cannot control helps shift the focus to the things you can control.
Doodling. I like the infinity symbol and retracing it over and over. This idea can be super simple or made more complex with more symbols. The goal is for the brain to focus on drawing the symbol instead of the worry.
Understand how worries get out of control. I use the Worry Milk example to visualize how anxiety makes small tasks seem too big to handle.
Talk less. A friend shared a post from Raising Teens that said to simply offer a favorite snack/drink without the expectation that they talk about what is on their mind. The snack lets them know you care about them and are there to chat if they want to.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list. I would love other parents to chime in with strategies that have worked for them.