Everyone, including children, sometimes worries about important choices, conversations or negative events of the day. When worrying, the same thoughts keep coming back as a kind of circle. The core of worrying is trying to find a solution to problems that are at play at that moment. The thoughts keep running through your head and there seems to be no end to them. Instead of the thoughts taking control, take control of yourself and help your child with that.
What is overthinking? Are you or your child a overthinker? Then you are certainly not alone. Many children overthink at least once a week. Some even daily. If you want to stop worrying and overthinking, it's important to know what it is and how it works.
There is an important difference between oerthinking and thinking about something. When you think, you usually find a solution. When overthinking, it works the other way around: because you worry, you do not find a solution, but rather fear or a negative feeling.
Why overthinking? We overthink because we feel that worrying helps us cope better with these problems. Worrying often takes the form of a “what if” thought. For example: 'what if I forget my text during that presentation at school?' or 'what if I am not chosen with gym?'. While worrying, think about what you will do if you do indeed end up with your mouth full of teeth.
Our brains are problem solvers. This is often useful, but it can also work against you. The bad thing about worrying is that it reinforces itself. Suppose you are anxious about a presentation. You worry a lot about it and that makes the fear a little less. Then you give a presentation and nothing happens. Subconsciously, your brain has now learned two things:
When I worry, my anxiety diminishes
When I worry, the things I fear don't happen
You probably already see the fallacy yourself:
If you hadn't started worrying, the fear would have gone too
If you hadn't worried, the presentation would have gone well
So you understand it, but the subconscious part of your brain doesn't yet. In fact, that part of your brain decides to worry even more, because it helps you so much!!
Reasons of overthinking: If your child often overthinks, he may experience complaints such as anxiety, tension, difficulties concentrating, sometimes sleeping problems and not being able to put things into perspective. Worrying can also be part of a personality. Some are more sensitive to this than others. In addition, there are other causes:
Overstrain or burnout
An unpleasant or stressful event
In some cases, overthinkng can be associated with a disorder called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short). In this case, you are overly concerned about everything for no real reason, making the worrying thoughts unrealistic. For example, your child may worry about doing well in school, while doing really well and getting good grades. Meanwhile, these worrying thoughts dominate his whole life.
How do I stop it? Worrying keeps you awake when you want to sleep, it makes you worried, anxious, stressed and vulnerable. If you worry a lot, you put a lot of energy into a process that not only brings you nothing, but which also actively makes you more unhappy!
Below are seven effective tips for your child.
1. Becoming aware of your negative thoughts Thought patterns: Thoughts are related to feelings and behavior. so change the way you think, then you change the way you feel.
Negative thoughts often arise unconsciously and automatically. These different thoughts lead to different feelings, such as anger, fear, guilt, shame, sadness, insecurity or neutral feelings. It is important to be aware of this and learn to recognize negative thoughts so that you can change them. So practice with your child with that. Every day for the coming time, think of a situation in which you recognized a negative thought:
What was the situation, what happened? (Event)
What did you think? (Thought)
What did you feel then? (Feeling)
What did you do? (Behaviour)
2. Challenge your negative thoughts
You can learn to challenge these negative thoughts and replace them with helpful thoughts. A helping thought is more positive and realistic and gives pleasant or neutral feelings. Now look at the negative thoughts and ask the questions below:
Is it a fact - How do I know it is? What reasons do I have for believing this? What evidence or indications are there for this?
Other explanation - Is there also evidence against these thoughts? How would anyone else view this situation? What would I say to a friend who told me this? Is the way I think about it now the only possible way? What argues against this thought?
Best and Worst Options - Suppose what I think would indeed happen or be true, what does this mean for me? Why would it matter if this were the case? What options would I have to deal with this situation? Could I (eventually) tolerate this?
Usefulness - Do these thoughts help me feel and behave the way I want?
3. Overthinking elastic band Provide a rubber band to wear around his wrist. Whenever he notices starting to worry, he has to pull on the rubber band so that it taps against his wrist. This can break the flow of negative thoughts for a while. This also makes you more aware of how often you actually overthink.
4. Keep track about your overthinking An entirely different strategy for dealing with negative thoughts is to allow these thoughts to occur. You can purchase a special 'worry notebook' in which negative thoughts are written down daily. Writing can help organize your thoughts or clear your head. Thinking about your problems and worries takes on a different charge when it is written down and that it eventually starts to worry less. It may help to do this just before going to bed to avoid lying awake for a long time. 5. Set a daily overthinking moment A comparable strategy is to plan a fixed daily moment of worry during which concerns are deliberately considered for 15 minutes. It is important to stop after this fifteen minutes and seek distraction. If a worrying thought arises outside this 15 minutes, write it on a 'worry list'. Only when the next moment of worry has arrived can you think about the thoughts that have been written down. Thinking about problems and worries takes on a different charge when it is conscious and that eventually there is less worrying outside the worry area. 6. Defusion and acceptation Just let the thoughts come and go as the energy is focused on things that are important to you. The thoughts will not disappear, but they will bother you much less. Thoughts are accepted and you stop fighting them. 7. Search for distraction Exercising in particular can help to combat worrying and unrest. For example, teach your child to play sports or walk while he feels it. Or do something creative, call a friend, listen to music, read a book, do breathing and relaxation exercises or play games. These are all good distractions for your child when pverthinking.
Do you need more help dealing with your child's overthinking? Then this list will help you. One of the methods I often use is cognitive behavioral therapy. This method focuses on changing the thoughts and behavior patterns.
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