We all have someone in our lives to whom we look to for reassurance.
Naturally, it takes a compassionate and empathetic individual to remove fears in the life of another person. When it comes to children, parents are often the go-to source for finding reassurance.
Yet, some children go overboard and excessively search for reassurance. Unsurprisingly, this is not only exhausting, but it can be tricky to deal with as well.
As a parent, you want your child to feel secure and confident rather than flooded with feelings of anxiety.
If you’ve noticed that your child seeks reassurance excessively, there are two keys that will help you manage the situation.
How to Recognize Excessive Reassurance
When a child asks for reassurance, it can come in many forms. And the main driver is usually anxiety.
With that in mind, a primary component of excessive reassurance seeking is often that it’s obsessive in nature.
A younger child afraid of intruders might ask you the same thing over and over such as, “Did you lock all the doors?” Or a child afraid of bed bugs will request that you check the bed sheets once more.
Teens will focus their attention on more complex issues such as homework or personal safety. These fears usually play out by them requesting you to check over their homework more than once. They also might call you repeatedly (or resort to texting) just to make sure you’re okay.
2 Keys to Address the Fear
To put an end to excessive reassurance seeking, there are two keys you can implement. Both can be successful, but each one has its place.
Key #1: The “Cold Turkey” Method
Directly addressing the anxiety head-on is the first method. This is a “cold turkey” kind of route. It works best for reassurance seeking that has either newly develop or is reserved for a few particular (and small) areas in your child’s life.
As the term suggests, you directly communicate to your child that you’ll no longer be reassuring them in that certain situation. For example, you may tell your child that you won’t be answering that (insert anxiety focus here) question when they ask.
Key #2: The Step-by-Step Strategy
For reassurance issues that have been occurring for a while or have infiltrated your child’s life abundantly, a gradual approach works best.
This strategy entails offering minimal reassurance and then scaling that back, replacing it with other types of support. For example, you might offer one item of reassurance per day. As you scale back your reassurance to zero, you’ll offer other ways to help your child manage their anxious feelings.
Tips for Success
Both of these methods are unique to each situation and family. Meaning, they’ll look different from family to family, situation to situation.
However, here are a few tips to ensure your success, no matter which method you decide to pursue.
Rally the Troops
For starters, make sure your entire family is on board with the new anxiety-busting strategy. Neither route will be successful if the game plan isn’t upheld by all members.
Anxiety works like a storm, causing damage in a chaotic way. To battle it, be specific about the fear you’re addressing. In your strategy, go as far as naming the specific situation, people, places, etc. This will help to pinpoint the exact emotions your child is facing.
Agree on a Plan
It’s vital to talk to your child about your game plan. They may not like the plan or even try to dissuade you from it altogether. Still, it’s important to be open and honest about what you’re trying to accomplish together. Validate their feelings but stick to the communicated plan.
Ups and downs are okay for the ocean, but they don’t work so well for parenting an anxious child. Try to be as consistent as you can with whatever method you’ve chosen to implement. Remember, consistency is comforting to a child of any age.
Overcoming anxiety is a huge deal, so celebrate with your child when they set milestones in their personal struggle. Not only does this help to encourage them, but using rewards is motivating as well.