Anxiety is the sometimes screaming, sometimes whispered nagging voice inside your head that tells you everything you do or have done is wrong. Anxiety is the palm-sweating, stomach-rumbling, heart-racing worry machine that takes control of your body. Anxiety feels like impending death. If you know anxiety, and your child is anxious, everything in you wants to protect your child from it so you'll accept any advice to stop your child's anxiety. However, there are some pieces of "advice" every mom with an anxious kid dreads hearing, too. After all, someone else's best of intentions will only get you so far.
Sometimes, and unfortunately, in our rush to protect our children in the moment, we can hurt their emotional intelligence long term. For example, when we try to use strategies that wouldn't work with us, we forget how frustrating that can be. Phrases like, "There's nothing to worry about," or, "Everything is fine." might be "easy" to say in the moment, but do very little to quell your child's anxiety. And when we say things like, "If you're worried about the dark room, just don't go in there," we teach them to avoid or distract from their emotional experience, rather than feel through it.
Of course I want to help my child feel better. I hate to see him in pain, whether it be physical or emotional. However, in my urgency to help him in the moment and as soon as possible, I sometimes lose sight of what my long term goals are for him, namely: independence, kindness, and emotional intelligence. All of these goals can be negatively impacted by taking the hastily given advice of strangers about how to help my child's anxiety. I've gotten so much advice over the years that I've started to dread the kind-eyed, open-mouthed approach of a well-intentioned person. Sometimes sharing dread helps lessen the experience of dread, and increases the ability to let it go.