Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.” –Anonymous
These are the words I want my 9-year-old to understand. I have three children. My youngest one is, you guessed it, a worrier. I’m raising a worrier. Anyone with a child who worries knows that any subject is fair game for her brilliant mind to attach and over-analyze. Her brain constantly goes, and although a little awareness isn’t bad for someone her age, some of this worry can be a bit paralyzing. It started the way it did with my boys: tornadoes, zoo animals escaping, and fires. Those worries are easy to work through logically. But since quarantine began and her activities slowed, her worries have magnified.
This made me dive into ways to help her through her anxious thoughts because raising a worrier is hard work
The news is never on.
There is nothing more rated “R” than the national news. I watch just enough to feel like I’m in touch with the country’s narrative, but the minute my daughter awakes, we turn it off. If she caught wind of the crime, the hurricanes, the war, the politics, or any of the nightmares playing out on the screen, she would go off creating tiny tragedies in her head. If she does see or hear something upsetting, I make sure to stop what I’m doing and help her talk through her worries. We usually get to a place of peace, but I know she’s only telling me a little bit of what might keep her up at night.
We keep her healthy and active.
COVID-19 stopped her activities in their tracks. A bored mind is an anxiety playground. We have a schedule, we physically move our bodies at home, and we make sure she gets adequate sleep. I want to give her a chance for the healthiest possible way to approach any situation. When we were first stuck at home in early spring, the weather made it difficult to get moving. With summer came many opportunities to get into nature and move our bodies to quiet our worries. We found that getting her active and on a schedule helps them approach each stressor rationally, all wonderful for raising a worrier.
I really think part of the reason my daughter over thinks, worries, and stresses about hypothetical situations is because she likes to have control over situations. Because of her Type-A nature, allowing her to have choices and distractions helps so much. Some small ways we do that is having her choose our music in the car, having her create the dinner menu, having her plan out a perfect playdate, etc. When she feels in control of her life, she feels more comfortable in her life.
The tricks we’ve tried do not solve all of her overthinking problems. There are some nights we talk through going back to school with the virus, what we’d do if there was a fire, and why she is safe in our neighborhood from safety threats. I really think it’s important that I don’t distract her worries away completely. It’s healthy to talk through strategies and be prepared for emergencies.
It isn’t any surprise to me that my daughter is capable of working through many different scenarios for safety. A lot of what she works through and discusses with me is incredibly impressive. However, when her preparedness turns to thought-spirals, I try to help her give her a break. She is so smart, and the way she processes things proves that. I know there is no one I’d rather experience an emergency with. She is ready for anything.