Calming Your Anxious Child

August 7th, 2016 is National Kids Day. In honor of the occasion, Dr. Kathleen Trainor, author of the new book, Calming Your Anxious Child: Words to Say and Things to Do, offers four strategies to help quiet the worries of children moved by tragedy. For more on Dr. Trainor's methods, we invite you to listen to her interview with KERA.

 

How Parents Can Manage Anxiety Post-Tragedy:

  • Parents need to process their own feelings of fear and anger independent of their children. Anxiety is contagious and can " trickle down" to kids.

 

  • It's important not to foster divisions among ethnic groups but to see the terrorists as individual extremists not representing any larger religious or ethnic group. We don't want our kids to become racially and religiously  biased against large groups of people.

 

  • Remember kids are not little adults and need protection from too much information and visual violent imagery which is difficult when they often have such independent access to the Internet. Young kids have both big ears and big eyes and need more protection than they often get.

 

  • Keep in mind that the visual imagery can serve to increase children’s anxiety because they are too immature to process this information and keep it in perspective. It becomes quickly overwhelming for them and can increase their fearful thoughts and anxious behaviors. 

 

Kathleen Trainor, PsyD, is a child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. She is the author of Calming Your Anxious Child: Words to Say and Things to Do.