From one mama of an anxious child to another—here’s how we cope

Communicate when there’s a change in routine—and leave enough time to process

From one mama of an anxious child to another—here’s how we cope

I have a mildly anxious child. She’s my ‘Wemberly Worried’ (fabulous Kevin Henkes book heroine, btw!) personified—a natural worry wart. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and worries about the smallest things that wouldn’t even occur to her younger sister to *think* about.

Over the years of raising our little professional worrier, my husband and I have become experts at navigating and anticipating her need for controlling her environment as much as possible, but it wasn’t always easy (still isn’t!).

And while we are beyond grateful that her anxieties are not as debilitating as they could be, they do impact her (and us as parents) in ways that call for coping mechanisms.


You see, at night, my daughter’s mind comes alive with all the potential worst case scenarios. Whether it’s big or small changes outside of her normal routine, she frets. And when she has trouble calming her mind, her anxiety manifests itself in her inability to sleep.

Some nights, she is up until midnight with her mind spinning up the latest worst-case scenarios—while her parents stress about how bad it is for a child’s developing brain to not get enough zzz’s. To be honest, the no sleeping thing is incredibly hard and frustrating to deal with at times. Our daughter feels badly about not being able to sleep, and we are worried about what impact sleepless nights have on her health and development.

To cope, we enlisted professional help.

We found our handful of sessions with a therapist incredibly helpful and reassuring. We gained deeper understanding of what may trigger our daughter’s anxieties and were also validated in our approach to how to handle various worry-filled situations.

If you’re struggling with an anxious kiddo, I would highly recommend seeing someone they can connect with, trust and feel safe to open up to. If for nothing else, it makes you feel like you’re doing *something* to help them!

So what are our coping mechanisms?

Communicate when there’s a change in routine—and leave enough time to process

We have become very cognizant of my daughter’s need to control her environment as much as possible. As a result, every time we change our standard routine, we allow her enough time and space to process the change.

We discuss where we are going, what we are going to be doing, who we are going to be with and why (and answer her 74 questions that ensue). We over-communicate and plan for events far enough in advance whenever possible.

Make bedtime soothing and calm

We have developed a bedtime routine that includes plenty of wind-down time. An hour before sleep, she does stretches, reads with us and on her own, and then, if she does feel a bit anxious about something, she goes through a series of mental and breathing exercises her therapist taught her to calm herself.

Even with all the tricks in her ‘calming box’, there are the occasional nights when she struggles to find sleep. Thankfully they are becoming less regular events, but on those nights, my husband and I look at each other helplessly.

Mama, that sense of helplessness is the worst. I get tired and frustrated— and I just want my kid to go to sleep already.

In those moments, I have to stop and breathe.

I remind myself that we have given her everything we could to calm herself. As long as a mildly anxious child like mine is equipped with a proper ‘toolbox’ of coping mechanisms, they can (and should) practice to self-soothe.

There are (and always will be) cases where my daughter’s anxious little mind just won’t stop spinning, but at least she can be in charge of her thoughts. And sometimes, we just have to let her figure it out on her own. Because I know she’s got this. And you do too, mama.

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

Keep reading Show less