Identify Your Child's Worries With The Animal Chart!
Hey, Heidi Rogers here with today's three-minute parenting playbook. And today I want to talk to you about some of my favorite strategies for navigating worry or anxiety, or tasks or things that kids want to do, but they can't find the way to do it because the anxiety prohibits them from doing it.
First thing's first, I would love it if you watch two other videos, I've done, one on managing anxiety in general. And then the other which is on listening, or my acronym M.O.V.E.S, which is an acronym/script sort of style of how you can connect with your kids better, listen to them, and teaches you sort of how to validate and empathize with them and not just fix it when they share stuff that they're worried about. These two strategies I use all the time, I use with little kids, I use with adults, they work across the lifespan, and they're effective.
The first thing you want to do is the goal ladder. Now goal ladder, we have at the top of it, basically whatever the thing is that I'm trying to accomplish, and that I can't. So that could be, say, I really would love to be able to pet a dog, but my anxiety just gets the better of me and I'm not able to. So the top of the ladder, of the goal ladder, will say petting a dog. And then we just work our way down into bite-sized pieces of stuff that I actually feel like I can do. So the bottom rung, the first thing I feel like I could actually do is think about dogs. For some children and for some adults thinking about things can often be too distressing and too hard. So you want to make it just be as tolerable and doable as they feel comfortable with. So if they can think about it, I'm just gonna think about dogs. Okay, I'm gonna think about all the different kinds of dogs there are. Once that's sort of doable, and you might do that for a few days or weeks, or depending how long they feel comfortable with that, then you graduate up, and then you do maybe watching videos of dogs. Then we go to the dog park and we just watch from the car, then we get out of the car, right you see where I'm going with this. And then at the top, it's actually petting a dog or getting near to one and then petting one, right?
You don't want to be doing sticker charts. rewards, or kind of that extrinsic motivation as you go. We want to be teaching them intrinsic motivation of just how good it feels when you accomplish a goal.
The second thing I want to teach you is what I call the Animal Worry list. You teach your kids to rank their worries in order, starting with a whale or a dinosaur or some big animal. I always go whale because it's the biggest. And then we go down - elephant, monkey, cat, mouse, ladybug. And we try to identify what are the things that you're most worried about? Starting at the new school or going back to school or moving house or (and I do this with adults too) starting the new job. And you're worried about you know, now you're single or whatever. And so we work out what's the biggest thing I'm worried about. And you might be surprised sometimes your kids will share stuff with you that you thought would be the whale worry. And it's actually the ladybug worry and you're like Oh, okay. Then what you do is you start with the ladybug worry and you work your way up. By processing through the ladybug worry, It helps them sort of feel confident that I can do this, I can get on top of this because that one was so little, I could do it.
But you want to really be validating and empathizing with them working together on how you can tackle these things not eliminating, rejecting, or abandoning their fear that it's not real. Validating that it's real. When you show them that we can do this and we start with the little one, giving them scripts - you know how we're going to talk back to the ladybug worry when it pops up. It can be so helpful for them and so validating for them.
I hope this was helpful. If you want a resource that goes with this video, click the link below and it'll be sent to you.