My daughter came to me the other night worried about all of the obligations she had at school. She wondered if she would get more homework than she could handle. She was also nervous about doing poorly on her history test the next day. She asked if everything would work out and if she would be okay.
Many of us have had these moments with our kids when they become anxious and worried about the future or even just their homework. Our children can worry about everything from global warming, war and famine to exams and friendships.
The first thing I do is ask my child if she is okay in this moment. She usually takes a moment and says, “I think so.”
Then, I ask her to jump up and down, do some jumping jacks, push ups, head rolls and shoulder shrugs for a few minutes. This gets her a little out of her head and more in her body.
Next I ask her if she is absolutely certain that what she is worrying about will happen. She always answers, “no I am not absolutely certain.” Then I say, “Well if you are not absolutely certain then that means something else could happen. Maybe even something good. Maybe you will be able to handle your homework, and Maybe you will do well on your test. Why worry that it will be bad when it also could be good!”
Then, I say, “And even if things don’t work out exactly as you want them to, the next moment will offer you Maybe once again. There’s an unlimited range of possibilities for your future!
She responded “Mom, thanks! I feel a lot better. Maybe everything will be okay. And if it does not work out, with Maybe there is always another possibility. That feels good.”
It works like a charm every time!!
If your child is a little older it is sometimes effective to have them write their worries down on a piece of paper. Then ask them to write the sentence, “Are you absolutely certain this will happen?” Usually the answer is no and then they can challenge their worries with a few Maybe statements such as: Maybe my beliefs about my situation are not true; Maybe what is happening is good; Maybe what is happening can get better; Maybe everything will work out fine. Ask your child how these Maybe Statements make them feel? Does your child feel more hopeful? Does your child see that the situation can work out differently than he or she was fearing? Try to review these statements with them a few times each day. If you can, have them add more Maybe statements that challenge their stress and worry about the current situation.
Have them keep their attention on these Maybe statements the next few days and see what happens to their fears and worries. Maybe your child will be pleasantly surprised!