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Use This One Sentence To Empower Your Kids

Anxiety in children is a major concern for many parents/guardians. Right now, it affects approximately 20% of kids and youth across their lifespan (source). One of the contributors to anxiety in kids is a lack of experience facing challenges independently. When something difficult happens, anxious kids may avoid the situation entirely, or depend on others to fix it for them. It can be a vicious cycle that simply results in higher anxiety.

I see this all the time in my work as a child therapist. Anxiety can show up in small ways while I’m in session with a child or youth. A big part of my job, then, is to empower kids when these small moments of anxiety occur.

There’s one sentence I use consistently to do exactly this:

“Looks like you figured it out!”

This statement validates what’s happened. It isn’t an opinion. Kids walk away understanding this: “I solved the problem”. How empowering is that? Kids learn they can solve their problems as a result. Independent problem-solving that is reinforced by loving, supportive parents instills a deep belief in the child that they can face their personal challenges.

Let’s say your child is struggling with something you know they can figure out on their own, and they ask for your help. Before you do anything, say: “Show me what you’re trying to do”. In most cases, as they show you, they figure out how to do it themselves. When they do, give them a big smile and say: “Looks like you figured it out!”.

If they try something they really do need help with, offer the minimum amount of help necessary after they show you what they’re trying to do. Avoid taking over and fixing the problem for your child. Remember, you want them to experience their ability to solve their problems independently. When the problem is solved, say: “Looks like you figured it out!”

Many parents can feel lost about what to do when their kids display concerning levels of anxiety. My approach as a child and youth therapist involves toys, games, safe conversation, and acceptance to help kids process difficult situations. If you are concerned about your child’s anxiety, I encourage you to contact me for more information about how I can help.

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