Don’t Tell Anxious Kids That Everything Will Be O.K.

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September 21, 2016
Tags: advice | kids

It doesn’t help to tell kids, especially anxious children, that everything will be okay. It’s not helpful, so says a recent article on

The August magazine cited long-terms surveys of mental-health literature and concluded today’s kids are more worried than kids in the past.

And worrying certainly becomes a central issue in a child’s life during times of transition, such as moving, or the dissolution of a marriage.

So how can a parent help? “Validate a kid’s worries,” says Jill Emanuele, senior clinical psychologist and director of training at the Child Mind Institute who was interviewed for the Time article. “When (a child) says, ‘I’m worried or anxious,’” Emanuele points out, “the first thing a lot of people want to do is say, ‘You’re going to be fine. It’s going to be O.K.’”

But that’s anything but okay to a child. Comforting words may provide temporary relief, but if anxiety is not faced head on, says Emanuele, it will come back again, even stronger. Instead, when kids are worried, parents can help them face their fears by asking them questions about their worries, and helping them come up with strategies to face their fears.

As children age so can their anxieties. The article points out that middle school-aged children should have limits on their social media devices and should be given the tools to help handle their stress. For high schoolers it’s all about listening and collaborating.

The article concludes that one of the best way for kids to deal with stress is to set an example by learning how to deal with your own stress. That way everyone in the family can lead a less stressful, and anxious, life.

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