How to Help Your Anxious Child Build Mental Strength

mental strengthWhile parents may consistently remind their anxious children to be active and eat their veggies so they can build healthy bodies, it’s just as important for your anxious child to build a strong and healthy mind. Mental strength is crucial when it comes to effectively coping with setbacks, failure, hardships and rejection – or all the realities of life that will sooner or later come our way.

Get them ready sooner with a few tips from Amy Morin, social work, psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do.”

Make Time for Family Mental Exercises

You may play ball in the yard to build physical muscle, and you can engage in other activities right in your living room to build up mental muscle. Discuss the importance of building mental strength, and then introduce family activities designed to improve the mind.

Practicing mindfulness is always a good one, as it helps you and your family members become more aware of the world around and your place in it. It’s also a terrific way to bring everyone back to the present moment.

Having each family member make a quick gratitude list containing three items for which they are thankful is another way to build mental strength. Share your entries over dinner or instead of watching the latest TV show. Focusing on your blessings, rather than your burdens, has a huge impact on psychological health. Benefits range from better sleep to increased happiness.

Initiate Conversations about Feelings

While many parents may automatically talk to their anxious children about strong emotions like anger or extreme sadness, there are many other emotions in between. Regularly discussing how you’re feeling on a given day, and asking how your child is feeling, can help children identify the vast range of emotions they may be experiencing.

Take the discussion further by noting how different emotions can affect our behavior and decisions, then outline positive actions your children can take to manage their feelings in a healthy way.

Be a Role Model for Positive Action 

A person’s negative feelings don’t need to result in negative action. Let your children know that they can act contrary to their emotions – and positive behavior can even change the way they’re feeling.

If your anxious child has a bad day at school, for instance, have him or her suggest some actions they can take to make themselves feel better. Perhaps listening to some of their favorite music or working on an art project can help.

Be a role model by pointing out times you act contrary to your own feelings. If you’re beat after a long day, you can tell your child how tired you are and how you want to just go lie down and read. But you can illustrate positive behavior by noting how the family needs to eat and it’s a wise choice for you to make dinner instead.

Mental strength is vital for leading happier, more serene lives, and making it a priority in your family can help your anxious child achieve exactly that.