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How To Support Your Child In Their Times Of Stress – Step 1

This short but detailed video shows you the clear, first step of how you can best support your child in their times of stress.

How can you best support your child in their times of stress? It’s an all-too-common situation for parents, especially parents of an anxious child.

And this is exactly what Efi, one of the amazing mums within my CALM Parents and Kids Hub, wondered on a recent call.

Efi handled this situation really well in the scenario we’re about to look at.

There are some specific and important steps you can remember to apply when you find yourself in similar situations. Here I’m sharing how I supported Efi so you get a good understanding of not only what to do, but also why to do it.

Watch this short video below which begins with Efi explaining the situation where her daughter’s anxiety took over. We then delve into the solution so you, too, can understand exactly how to best support your child in their times of stress:

The Scenario:

In a recent class with my CALM Parents and Kids Hub parents, Efi began by explaining what happened with her daughter:

“So we were at, it's like a gymnastics class, on Saturday. It's only been about her third or fourth time. It's like a circus thing. They actually have to hang off silks. Anyway she's really enjoying it and all of a sudden, I think it was a new… I thought it wasn't a new exercise that she had to do, but she said it's new.

And she kind of just got into this… out of the blue, this fear just took over. So she's run to me and kind of like shaking a little bit and teary and just saying, “I can't do this. I can't do this, I can't, it's too high and I can't let go of my hands.”

It's not completely new because if it's a new exercise, she's done something very similar and quite comfortably. So I was trying to work out where it kind of came from. And so just in that moment, what do you do?


How do you kind of reset her?”

How To Support Your Child And Reset Them:

Firstly, this is a great question and something that comes up a lot. I began by asking Efi what she did do in this situation.

Efi replied that:

“I kind of kept it short and sweet and I just kind of said, what is it? And she said, “I can't let go of my hands and it's too high.”

And I said, “Hannah, the instructor, will be right there with you. Just go as far as you can and you can say stop any time.”


Then the instructor came over just to check in on her and I just said, “Hannah will be with you, trust Hannah.” So I guess I was saying trust the process.

And then she went back and just kind of challenged herself and not only did she do that, but she actually went a step further. So a big win, but my question is, what do I do? I don't know what happened. I don't know how she turned it around real quickly. She had a quick reset, went back, did the exercise, and went a bit further too.”

I love how this turned out!

Efi did pretty well in this situation.

First Things First:

So the first thing is to not be too hard on ourselves because we are not going to get things 100% right and perfect. It just doesn't exist. And as parents, we are doing our best.

What Efi did was pretty great. Well done to Efi.

I want you to learn from these situations so have pens ready if you want to and make lots of notes.

So the first thing is that when we've got a child that's come to us in stress, what's the very first thing that we need to do when they come to us?

The first thing is to validate their feelings. Embrace their feelings. Acknowledge them and let them know that what they’re feeling is okay.

That's number one.

Why Do We Need To Validate Their Feelings?:

Now, why do we have to do that?

Efi replied that:

“Because, even if we can't understand the fear behind it, we've all experienced fear. So obviously she's not rationally thinking. Her amygdala’s up. Just saying, “It's okay to feel what you're feeling. There's nothing wrong with you. Let yourself feel what you're feeling and it'll pass”. Just for her not thinking, “Oh, what's wrong with me?”

This is good, but let's not over-complicate this, because a lot of us can over-complicate things. So you validate it.

Something like: “Yeah, it's all cool, honey. You're feeling nervous and that was a new thing and it was a bit tricky, was it?”

Or whatever is relevant in the situation. You’re just kind of validating how they’re feeling.
“Yeah, I totally get it. Wow. Yeah. I get that. I get how you're feeling right now”, or “Oh gosh, yeah, you feel a bit stressed do you?”

Whatever words your child has said, say back the words that they have said, not our words.

Our interpretation is only our interpretation. So we are saying back what they're describing. So when Efi asked – and I liked it – Efi just said, “What's up? What is it?”

And then she gave her daughter an opportunity to articulate what's going on. “Oh, I, I can't do it. I can't do this,”. And then, “It's okay. So you feel like you can't do this right now, do you? You're feeling a bit… what are you feeling?”

We can dig a little bit, but we don't have to go too deep. We don't have to make it too big a deal. They might say, “I'm too scared”, or “I don't want to do it”, or something like that. We're going to help train our kids.

Identify The Feeling:

I want you to help train your kids to identify the feeling if they can, rather than just say, “I can't do it, I'm too scared.”

We want to get them used to describing how they're feeling if possible. So we do that and we validate first and then, once we've validated and they feel like they're being seen and heard, that's when we can logic.

So we MUST get into their feeling-brain, connect with them so their emotional side of their brain turns on.

If we try to logic straight away, we have lost them because they're not going to be on the same wavelength as us. So we need to tune into them.

Very Logical Thinkers Can Struggle With This:

Very logical people can struggle with this validation because they just want to fix it. They just want to do something. And they're even instructing the child to do something straight away.

If we don't validate, the child will still feel unheard and unseen. So if we're going to start by giving them instructions, they're not with us. Does that make sense?

So that's STEP 1 - to validate and help them feel seen and heard.

And then the step two is then you can come into a conversation of logic. This is what we'll be covering in our next video and blog - How To Support Your Child In Their Times Of Stress - Step 2.

See other posts like this one:

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Do Time Outs Really Work?

Are time outs truly effective in teaching children valuable lessons, or do they inadvertently hinder kids’ learning and emotional growth? Many parents and educators rely on time outs as a disciplinary tool, but does this method work for our kids? Join me as we explore time outs' effectiveness and discover alternative approaches that prioritise empathy and understanding.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Discover How 3 Easy Steps Can Help Your Anxious Child Thrive

In the realm of children's anxiety, the concept of contagion takes on a profound significance. Children often catch anxiety from their environment, absorbing fears and uncertainties from parents, peers, and the world around them.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

A Mother's Journey from Heartache to Healing

Do you want to have more joy in your family? Today, I'm opening up about something very personal, something I've never shared quite like this before. I'm going to share a lesson that not only comes from our weekly parenting classes but also from my own journey.

How To Support Your Child In Their Times Of Stress – Step 1

This short but detailed video shows you the clear, first step of how you can best support your child in their times of stress.

How can you best support your child in their times of stress? It’s an all-too-common situation for parents, especially parents of an anxious child.

And this is exactly what Efi, one of the amazing mums within my CALM Parents and Kids Hub, wondered on a recent call.

Efi handled this situation really well in the scenario we’re about to look at.

There are some specific and important steps you can remember to apply when you find yourself in similar situations. Here I’m sharing how I supported Efi so you get a good understanding of not only what to do, but also why to do it.

Watch this short video below which begins with Efi explaining the situation where her daughter’s anxiety took over. We then delve into the solution so you, too, can understand exactly how to best support your child in their times of stress:

The Scenario:

In a recent class with my CALM Parents and Kids Hub parents, Efi began by explaining what happened with her daughter:

“So we were at, it's like a gymnastics class, on Saturday. It's only been about her third or fourth time. It's like a circus thing. They actually have to hang off silks. Anyway she's really enjoying it and all of a sudden, I think it was a new… I thought it wasn't a new exercise that she had to do, but she said it's new.

And she kind of just got into this… out of the blue, this fear just took over. So she's run to me and kind of like shaking a little bit and teary and just saying, “I can't do this. I can't do this, I can't, it's too high and I can't let go of my hands.”

It's not completely new because if it's a new exercise, she's done something very similar and quite comfortably. So I was trying to work out where it kind of came from. And so just in that moment, what do you do?


How do you kind of reset her?”

How To Support Your Child And Reset Them:

Firstly, this is a great question and something that comes up a lot. I began by asking Efi what she did do in this situation.

Efi replied that:

“I kind of kept it short and sweet and I just kind of said, what is it? And she said, “I can't let go of my hands and it's too high.”

And I said, “Hannah, the instructor, will be right there with you. Just go as far as you can and you can say stop any time.”


Then the instructor came over just to check in on her and I just said, “Hannah will be with you, trust Hannah.” So I guess I was saying trust the process.

And then she went back and just kind of challenged herself and not only did she do that, but she actually went a step further. So a big win, but my question is, what do I do? I don't know what happened. I don't know how she turned it around real quickly. She had a quick reset, went back, did the exercise, and went a bit further too.”

I love how this turned out!

Efi did pretty well in this situation.

First Things First:

So the first thing is to not be too hard on ourselves because we are not going to get things 100% right and perfect. It just doesn't exist. And as parents, we are doing our best.

What Efi did was pretty great. Well done to Efi.

I want you to learn from these situations so have pens ready if you want to and make lots of notes.

So the first thing is that when we've got a child that's come to us in stress, what's the very first thing that we need to do when they come to us?

The first thing is to validate their feelings. Embrace their feelings. Acknowledge them and let them know that what they’re feeling is okay.

That's number one.

Why Do We Need To Validate Their Feelings?:

Now, why do we have to do that?

Efi replied that:

“Because, even if we can't understand the fear behind it, we've all experienced fear. So obviously she's not rationally thinking. Her amygdala’s up. Just saying, “It's okay to feel what you're feeling. There's nothing wrong with you. Let yourself feel what you're feeling and it'll pass”. Just for her not thinking, “Oh, what's wrong with me?”

This is good, but let's not over-complicate this, because a lot of us can over-complicate things. So you validate it.

Something like: “Yeah, it's all cool, honey. You're feeling nervous and that was a new thing and it was a bit tricky, was it?”

Or whatever is relevant in the situation. You’re just kind of validating how they’re feeling.
“Yeah, I totally get it. Wow. Yeah. I get that. I get how you're feeling right now”, or “Oh gosh, yeah, you feel a bit stressed do you?”

Whatever words your child has said, say back the words that they have said, not our words.

Our interpretation is only our interpretation. So we are saying back what they're describing. So when Efi asked – and I liked it – Efi just said, “What's up? What is it?”

And then she gave her daughter an opportunity to articulate what's going on. “Oh, I, I can't do it. I can't do this,”. And then, “It's okay. So you feel like you can't do this right now, do you? You're feeling a bit… what are you feeling?”

We can dig a little bit, but we don't have to go too deep. We don't have to make it too big a deal. They might say, “I'm too scared”, or “I don't want to do it”, or something like that. We're going to help train our kids.

Identify The Feeling:

I want you to help train your kids to identify the feeling if they can, rather than just say, “I can't do it, I'm too scared.”

We want to get them used to describing how they're feeling if possible. So we do that and we validate first and then, once we've validated and they feel like they're being seen and heard, that's when we can logic.

So we MUST get into their feeling-brain, connect with them so their emotional side of their brain turns on.

If we try to logic straight away, we have lost them because they're not going to be on the same wavelength as us. So we need to tune into them.

Very Logical Thinkers Can Struggle With This:

Very logical people can struggle with this validation because they just want to fix it. They just want to do something. And they're even instructing the child to do something straight away.

If we don't validate, the child will still feel unheard and unseen. So if we're going to start by giving them instructions, they're not with us. Does that make sense?

So that's STEP 1 - to validate and help them feel seen and heard.

And then the step two is then you can come into a conversation of logic. This is what we'll be covering in our next video and blog - How To Support Your Child In Their Times Of Stress - Step 2.

See other posts like this one:

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Do Time Outs Really Work?

Are time outs truly effective in teaching children valuable lessons, or do they inadvertently hinder kids’ learning and emotional growth? Many parents and educators rely on time outs as a disciplinary tool, but does this method work for our kids? Join me as we explore time outs' effectiveness and discover alternative approaches that prioritise empathy and understanding.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Discover How 3 Easy Steps Can Help Your Anxious Child Thrive

In the realm of children's anxiety, the concept of contagion takes on a profound significance. Children often catch anxiety from their environment, absorbing fears and uncertainties from parents, peers, and the world around them.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

A Mother's Journey from Heartache to Healing

Do you want to have more joy in your family? Today, I'm opening up about something very personal, something I've never shared quite like this before. I'm going to share a lesson that not only comes from our weekly parenting classes but also from my own journey.

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