Mental Health Series

Your Child’s Anxiety

In this session, we learn how to “Move Toward” your child’s anxiety by following a three-step approach to help your child deal with anxiety: Notice, Notify, and Need.

When used along with empathy and understanding, these questions can help strengthen the bond and trust between you and your child, allowing both of you to better recognize, identify, and work through anxiety more effectively.

Key Takeaways for Parents


Recognize Anxiety is Valid:

Understand that your child's anxiety is significant and valid, even if you don't fully understand it.

Curiosity over Judgment:

Approach your child's anxiety with curiosity rather than judgment, and pay attention to when and how anxiety manifests.

Understand the Message Behind Anxiety:

Anxiety is like an alarm triggered by perceived threats. Identify what your child's anxiety is trying to notify you about—whether it's physical, emotional, or external threats.

“Move Toward” Anxiety:

Instead of fighting against anxiety, move toward it with compassion and understanding. Help your child become curious about their anxiety and separate it from their identity.

Address the Anxiety's Needs:

Understand what your child's anxiety needs—whether it's safety, validation, or a physical outlet. Collaborate with your child to address these needs effectively.

Practical Strategies for Support:

Utilize practical strategies like physical activity, creating a safe environment, and managing expectations to help your child manage their anxiety effectively.

Empower Communication:

Encourage open communication by asking powerful questions such as what their anxiety is trying to tell them and what they need to calm their anxiety.

Practice the Three-Step Approach

  1. Notice: Observe your child’s anxiety without judgment and be curious about its triggers and manifestations. Strive to learn the precursors and reactions to anxiety, recognizing both visible signs like physical distress and less obvious signs, such as irritability or avoidance behaviors.
  2. Notify: Pay attention to what the anxiety is attempting to communicate, viewing it as an alarm system for perceived physical, emotional, or external threats. By becoming attuned to what anxiety truly represents, you can better understand your child’s fears and vulnerabilities.
  3. Need: Respond to the anxiety alarm by identifying what your child’s anxiety needs—whether it’s a physical outlet, safety, or reassurance against unrealistic expectations. This step is about coming alongside your child, offering support, and addressing their concerns collaboratively.