Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Yet again I join with other bloggers writing on topics of giftedness in a monthly blog hop. This month’s topic is Anxiety in Gifted Children.
Anti Anxiety Tips for Kids 

What Do I Know About Anxiety?

When I learned that we will be discussing anxiety in the Gifted blog hop, I was… well… anxious. The topic of anxiety is truly inexhaustible, since anxiety or worry affect different people in different ways. Even between me and my husband we tend to worry about different things. He tends to fret more about the past and how things could have been better/different. I am more prone to worry about the future and what might or might not happen. However, neither of us experienced crippling anxiety that would require some sort of attention from a specialist – just a normal “garden-variety” worry or performance anxiety, which, by the way, might even be good for you according to the latest research in the science of stress. Same applies to our 8 year old daughter – she dispels the myth that every gifted child must be especially sensitive, over-excitable, or anxious. Sure, she has moments when she is shy, worried, or stressed, but usually she is able to deal well with unexpected events or changes in the routine. Also, she performs quite well in test situations and actually enjoys tests as a chance to show off her abilities. Apparently, things that we do at home to help her cope with anxiety work well for her, and I am going to share our tips for handling anxiety in gifted kids with you.

Don’t Downplay Your Child’s Intelligence

Smarty is lucky. She has no reason to worry about things that often keep kids up at night – whether her parents will stay together or do we have enough money to afford something she needs. Her biggest worry for several years now is dying – her own dying or one of her parents dying. Interestingly, I remember the same worries creeping into my happy childhood as well, and they are hard to address, especially since we are not religious, so we cannot offer a “life after death” line of reasoning to soothe her concerns. Instead, we try to reason with her through her worries more or less following the famous serenity player.

Tip 1 – Ask, “Is It Likely”?

I think most children understand probability on some intuitive level, and we often discuss probability of certain events at home. For example, despite the newspaper headlines, the chances of a child being abducted by strangers is extremely small. So our usual response to What if we have an earthquake? or What if you die is to reply as confidently as we can that while this event is possible, it’s not likely. And even though “past performance doesn’t guarantee future results”, we point out to our daughter that our parents lived to an old age, so this also increases our own chances for not dying tomorrow.

Tip 2 – Ask “Can You Do Anything About It”?

We cannot do much about uncertainty, but powerlessness is a big contributor to anxiety. This is why we challenge our daughter to come up with practical steps to soothe her anxiety. Sometimes it can be as simple as cuddling with her favorite blanket or reading a book, sometimes we brainstorm ways to make the situation better. We also point to her all the ways in which we try to reduce risks in our lives – for example, by wearing life belts, eating well, going for medical check ups, etc.

What Else Can You Do For Anxious Children?

I stumbled upon some great articles on anxiety in children that I would like to share with you:

Your Turn

Helping Older Kids Deal With Anxiety

How do you deal with anxiety in your family?

Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop

This post was written as part of Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop series. Follow Hoagies Gifted on Facebook and join the conversation on anxiety in gifted kids.
Anxiety for Gifted landing page

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Ticia said...

Hmmm.... I'll have to think about how we do. Probably not as well as we could, but I don't know.

Linda Wallin said...

I like your reasonable approach to death. When death actually occurs in the family, however, it leaves a huge hole that cannot be filled. The uncertainty of the future (as in what am I going to do now) fuels emotions too deep to express. That is when a church can be a huge help.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Great post. I like your approach of talking things out.

Having had my father die when I was a child, I have a hard time telling the kids that bad things are unlikely...because...well...they do sometimes happen - BUT - when they do, we get through them.

That's where faith really comes into our picture. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trial" from Psalms 46, really means something to us.

We can't always avoid everything we're afraid of - but with the right support, we don't always need to be afraid of what might come, either.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Great post. I think this is an approach that works really well for a child who is able to and enjoys thinking through things logically. Thank you for linking to my post, too.

min said...

We tried everything and K insisted that she wanted to find a cure to live forever. Faith only caused more questions and greater anxiety. But recently, she watched the Superhero series and had a breakthrough. Now, she no longer thinks living forever is such a great thing. Go watch the video here:

Cait Fitz said...

We use many of the strategies you outline here, and then when desperate we try lots of random approaches to see what sticks :) As you said, it's so different for each individual. Thanks for this!