Anxious children can spend an inordinate amount of time worrying – time that could be better used for optimistic and resilient thinking. Contain upsetting thoughts by dedicating a specific time of day to worry; it’ll go a long way towards interrupting its harmful effects.
Step 1: Let your child know you’ve noticed how much time their worry thoughts are taking up in their day and that you’ve learned a great way to curb the worry habit – worry time.
Step 2: Help your child choose a time to worry in the day – avoiding anytime within an hour of bedtime. Worry time should ideally take place when you’re readily available. Some children like their parents to sit with them, silently witnessing and supporting while they face their worst thoughts. There’s nothing worst than having your child bring up their biggest fear as your racing out the door, late for an appointment.
Step 3: Use music, a bell, or a light switch as an overt cue that worry time has begun. A great way to measure the length of your child’s worry time is by age – if your child is five-years-old, their worry time is five minutes, and so forth. Feel free to adjust the worry time as needed, without allowing it to go on too long.
Step 4: Once worry time is over, let your child know that if another worry thought pops up they can simply remind themselves “it’s not the right time to worry, and they can think about the problem during worry time”.
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