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Kimberly Andrich shares strategies she has used to help her children get through times of nervousness and fear.

Stage fright

The girls ran to my van following their first children’s theater practice of the summer. 
“She didn’t even go onstage!” the oldest told me. 
“She just sat in the audience and cried,” the second added. 
I looked at the youngest. She had had a smile on her face but turned her head away as her sisters spoke. “It was scary,” she said, her smile fading as she furrowed her brow.  
Hearing that my youngest was too scared to go onstage brought back memories of her older sister, two years prior and at the same age, being too frightened to leave my side as the rest of the kids rushed up to practice. I had actually needed to go onstage with her for that first practice. The second practice, she cautiously went up on her own, glancing back every three steps. The third, she went up onstage more readily and became engaged quickly, allowing me to sneak out the door. She has loved performing ever since. 
Though the two have very different personalities, the youngest takes after her sister in her fear of doing new things.  
I had been hoping that being in the same group as her sister would be enough to allay her fears and help her with her anxiety. But as I listened to the girls, I knew she would need a little more support from me. 
It can be difficult to see our children struggle with fear and anxiety when faced with something new. It’s a common response, but some kids are more prone to it than others.  



6 strategies for helping children work through anxiety and fear: 

I’d like to share a few things I have learned from having multiple kids who have experienced anxiety and nervousness when facing new things. 


Assess whether your child is ready.

How necessary it is that they take this step? My youngest daughter had been excited to be in the play last year, but when it came time to practice, she suddenly became nervous and wouldn’t even go inside. I could tell by her demeanor and by recent reactions to other things that she was not ready for this challenge. I emailed the director and had her removed from the cast. This year, she has matured significantly and grown in her love of singing and dancing. I do believe this is a challenge she is more prepared to face this year and that she will benefit from facing it. 


Speak with them about courage.

I frequently remind my girls that being brave does not mean we don’t feel scared or nervous. The most courageous people are those who know that what they are doing is right and do it despite feeling anxious or afraid. I also remind them that it’s normal to feel nervous when trying something new but that the feeling will dissipate as they see that they are able to do it.  


Help them to speak truth to the worry in their heads.

A few years ago, I read a book with my middle daughter: Worry Says What? by Allison Edwards. As the girl in the book learns to see that the worry monster in her head is lying to her and causing unnecessary fears, she begins to speak truth to it and to herself. As she does that, the worry monster shrinks and eventually packs up and leaves. It can be empowering for kids to understand that, while their feelings of fear are real, the thing they are concerned about will likely never happen and that they can speak truth about it and, over time, calm their fears. 




Enlist help and support.

Sometimes when we can personally help our children through their fears, as I did when I stood near the stage at my middle daughter’s first play practice. Sometimes when we cannot. When we are not able to help them ourselves, it can help to enlist help and to show our children that we trust the person we ask to help. This same daughter used to have a very difficult time every morning going into school. The teachers asked an older, compassionate student to walk her into school each morning. My daughter soon began to look forward to seeing her older friend. There were still some difficult mornings, but significantly fewer. 


Let them know you love and cherish them no matter what.

It’s important to be careful that our kids do not begin to feel that our love for them is tied to their meeting expectations. We love them whether they meet the challenge or not. They need to feel safe with us and secure in our love and in their own worth.  


Let them know that God loves them and will never leave them.

Remind them that God loves them infinitely and unconditionally. Help them to be secure in His love, knowing their Heavenly Father will never forsake them or leave them. This is a good opportunity for them to build a foundation of trust in God when things don’t feel calm or easy for them. 


How do you support your children when they experience anxiety and fear?


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Copyright 2024 Kimberly Andrich
Images: Canva