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Accommodating Childhood Anxiety

What lengths would you go to to accommodate your child's anxiety? The alternative (not accommodating) can be excruciating for parents and siblings alike - potentially turning an outing or a nice evening into a complete meltdown... It's not surprising that many of us choose to accommodate rather than dig in and teach. The truth is that accommodating anxiety isn't helping our kids learn and grow - it's teaching them to be dependent on you to control the situation and decrease their anxiety.

Some examples of accommodating your child's anxiety (and in turn, teaching them that they can't handle it) are:

  • Having to be within eyesight of your child during all waking hours

  • Never taking them to the dentist because they are terrified to go

  • Lay with them every night to fall asleep (*and you don't want to)

  • Not washing their hair because they are scared to get water on their face

Most parents can sit down right now and imagine the ways that they are accommodating their children's anxiety (and accommodating their own anxiety around the corresponding behavior). The truth is that some of these tactics are good for getting you through the day, but they are emphasizing to your child that you don't think they can handle stress.

If you'd like to start making changes, here are three immediate things you can do:

Identify accommodations that are problematic. Think about which accommodations are causing problems in your day, taking too much time or are interfering with other family members.

Consider a change. Ask yourself what your day, and your kids day, would look like if you successfully gave up accommodating. Consider that behavioral changes take at least 3-5 consistent days to get results.

Talk to your kids. Be sure to validate their concerns and then ask for suggestions. What do they think would help? Come up with a solution and then be clear about what will happen and when.

Stay consistent. Unless your kid came up with the perfect solution, they will likely fight against the change at first. Consistency is key. Stay consistent and confident.

What are some ways that you accommodate anxiety? And... truth bomb, are you accommodating their anxiety or your own anxiety about the fallout? We would love to hear!


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