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Parental Attitudes to Encourage

Breathe tools

1. Support the child in dealing with what makes them anxious

  • Reduce your accommodation behaviour.
  • Use a step-by-step approach while respecting the child’s pace.
  • Do not avoid situations that scare them. Teach them to deal with those situations calmly while supporting them.
    supporting them.
  • Praise them when they succeed in overcoming
    their fear.

Accommodation consists of changing parental behaviour with the goal of preventing or reducing the child’s distress related to anxiety. In the very short term, accommodation reduces the child’s anxiety by letting them avoid the anxiety-provoking situation. In the long term, this behaviour maintains and heightens their anxiety.

Thompson Hollands et al., 2014

2. Be a role model and set an example

  • Confront the anxiety-provoking situations that you experience and share your strategies.
  • Accept making mistakes.
  • Talk about your emotions.
  • Use stress management strategies: your stress can make your child’s worse, while your confidence will increase theirs! That’s what we call the reverberations of stress.
  • Take care of yourself and, when needed, get help for yourself.
  • Live a healthy

The reverberations of stress

Like sound, stress reverberates through the people around a stressed or anxious person. These people feel the stress and their bodies also produce stress hormones. The closer the people are, the stronger the response.

Lupien, 2019

3. Provide a caring and secure environment

  • Establish clear rules and apply disciplinary measures consistently and coherently.
  • Have a positive attitude with the child, encourage them, highlight their good deeds and their efforts, show an interest in them and in their interests.
  • Help your child prepare for new situations.
  • Remind them that you have confidence in them.
  • Avoid controlling everything. Things that are new and unexpected are part of life and help a child develop their resistance to stress.

4. Encourage their autonomy and independence

  • Give your child the opportunity to try, to take risks… and to make mistakes.
  • Engage in your child’s life… but not too much!

5. Reduce sources of pressure

  • Resist the pressures of society: always faster, always more, always better.
  • Set realistic expectations based on learning rather than on performance.
  • Avoid overloading your child’s schedule.
  • Separate your own ambitions from those of your child.

6. Be a good listener

  • Avoid trivializing or minimizing what your child is experiencing; fear is real even if you don’t understand it.
  • Normalize what they are experiencing: “It’s normal to be afraid when we try new things. You are not the only one to experience fear, I am also afraid sometimes!”
  • Ask questions and listen.
  • Don’t try to resolve their fears no matter the cost; your child frequently just needs to be listened to and understood.
  • Arrange a time with your child when they can talk to you about their concerns rather than constantly responding to their demands for reassurance. This will enable them to develop a tolerance for uncertainty.

7. Accompany your child in adopting a healthy lifestyle

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat properly, move, exercise.
  • Maintain healthy relationships with others.
  • Take time to have fun.
  • Maintain a good balance between the various aspects of life.
  • Show kindness.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Cultivate self-esteem.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Have a spiritual life.

8. Accompany your child in adopting stress management strategies

  • Physical exercise
  • Yoga
  • Breathing and relaxation
  • Mindfulness
  • Arts
  • Laughter
  • Contact with nature
  • Etc.


  • Berthiaume, 2017; Couture, 2016 ; Duclos, 2011
  • Couture, 2016; Naître et grandir, 2016
  • Every Moment Counts, 2014; Fondation de psychologie du Canada, 2011; Gasparovich, 2008; Leroux, 2016

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