There have always been and always will be threats in the world around us. Some threats are as unlikely as being struck by lightning; others are as common as car accidents.
In order to let your children go, even briefly, you’ll need them to be well prepared but not nervous. You’re much more likely to accomplish this goal if safety and preparedness are routine and matter-of-fact parts of your daily life.
Don’t argue about bike helmets, seat belts and car seats, floatation devices and sunscreen. These and similar precautions must be as obvious and necessary as wearing pants. No helmet? No riding. Period. No seat belt? The car doesn’t move. Period. There’s no negotiating. There are no exceptions. There’s no argument. As with any limit, your kids will test you on the need for these protections. If it’s about safety, you must follow through every single time.
Your emotions and behavior are key. Not only does this mean that you have to practice what you preach — yes, that means you do wear your seat belt 100 percent of the time — you have to do so without emotion. Your anxiety is contagious. If snapping on a seat belt or crossing the street or driving a car or being near water or in crowds makes you anxious, expect that your kids will become anxious doing these things as well.
Anxiety is to conflict like gasoline is to fire. If you’re nervous, your kids will be nervous and there will be an argument.
Excerpt from Holding Tight, Letting Go: Raising Healthy Kids in Anxious Times. By Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D. Unhooked Books.