Children who struggle with worry or anxiety often have a negative “worry script” playing in their head. Help your children overcome fears by creating a new positive script!
Jordan shuffled slowly to the front of the classroom. His shoulders were hunched, his stomach was in knots and his palms were sweaty. On his way to the podium, he tripped on his shoelace and fell to the floor. His note cards scattered everywhere. When he finally made it to the podium, he realized that his note cards were out of order. He glanced up at the faces in the classroom. A few people were whispering, some were pointing and mocking his fall. Jordan tried to begin his presentation, but he couldn’t remember the words. He stuttered and stammered while his face turned bright red. Children in the classroom began laughing. Even the teacher joined in. It was too much…he couldn’t take it…he ran out of the classroom.
In this scenario, Jordan has a fear of speaking in front of the class. This is the script that plays out in his mind when he thinks about doing his presentation. It’s not hard to imagine how Jordan feels after he thinks about his presentation – embarrassed, unprepared, fearful.
If your child is struggling with fear or worry, chances are, there is a “worry script” running through their head. It may be imaginary or an actual scene from the past that continues to repeat. In the story your child’s fear plays out and the story ends badly.
Many children (and adults) feel powerless to change the story. They can’t imagine it happening any other way. For some, it becomes inevitable, something that has to happen…like it or not…because it’s part of the story.
Thankfully, your child’s brain is miraculous. It can be convinced to think differently (similar to affirmations). They can change the story.
It takes work to rewrite a script that is attached to a particular fear or worry. It’s often uncomfortable at first. It may take many repetitions before it feels different or before your child even believes that it is possible.
If your child is struggling with worry, I encourage you to help them write a new script. If your child is young, they can draw pictures. If your child is creative, they can create a collage or a lego creation to tell the new story. Repeat the story often, changing it as necessary, but always focusing on a positive alternative to the “worry story” that is currently being replayed.
Here’s how Jordan’s new script may read:
Jordan stood up from his desk, looking straight ahead, shoulders back, head held high. He walked confidently towards the podium and glanced at his note cards. He had rehearsed the presentation out loud to his parents many times, and he had it mostly memorized. He looked up at the class and made eye contact with a few friends. His friends smiled back which made Jordan feel good inside. He took a deep breath, and began speaking slowly and clearly. Tyler started making faces in the back of the room. Jordan took another deep breath, he knew that Tyler was just trying to distract him and he wasn’t going to let one person bring him down. He returned his focus to the people in the class who were listening attentively and continued speaking. He made eye contact with his teacher, who returned a gentle smile of encouragement. When he finished speaking, everyone in the class clapped.