Your 4R Response Plan:

Addressing Anxiety

Follow the 4R Response Method to create your custom plan that will help you to effectively support your anxious child and foster more resilience in the future. 

Child Makes Big Deal Out of Small Things

How to Use This Page

Watch this video to learn how to make the most of this resource

Download Your 4R Response Plan

Click here or on the graphic below to download the 4R Response Plan template that you’ll complete for dealing with schoolwork issues in your home. 

Watch the videos below for ideas about what to consider at each step. You’ll also see a summary of my suggestions below the video. 

Questions? Come to the 4R Response Method Practice Sessions or fill out this form to ask questions! (I’ll answer forms in the live practice session and email the recording to you.)


REDUCE YOUR YUCK Related to Your Child's Anxiety

When a child is anxious, it is a sign that they are sensing a threat. It’s during those times that it’s even more important to show them that you believe things will be OK! (And it’s not about convincing them that things will be OK. It’s about convicing YOURSELF that things will be OK!)

Here are some examples of how you can reduce your Yuck by reducing the threat.

The behavior is not a threat because

  • children worry; it’s common AND manageable
  • when children are worrying (or even irritable or shutting down), it’s a sign that their Yuck is bigger than their coping skills. It’s not a threat; you can address both issues.

You can handle it because

  • One action that is in your control is learn more about the anxious brain
  • Another action that is in your control in the moment is to not say much when your child is anxious. Instead of trying to reassure them or fix the situation, just be present.

Instead of getting sucked in and using willpower to regulate yourself, use your Avatar to think about the situation differently and respond differently. 


RESPOND EFFECTIVELY When Your Child is Anxious

Now we’ll talk about how to respond when your child is feeling anxious

Responding effectively is about managing Yuck, and it is so important to address yours so that you honestly believe (not just pretend!) that things will be OK. And instead of convincing them with words, you calm them with your energy. 

First, you want to make sure you have a when-then statement to address your own Yuck. Obviously this statement is personal to you.

When creating a when-then statement for responding to your child, you might want to

  • see them by NOT minimizing  how they feel, but also not over-identifying with their fears and getting sucked in
  • teach them by suggesting a strategy to sooth themselves. (But honestly, by the time a child has a big reaction, they’re too deep in Yuck to want to listen to you.)
  • let them travel the Yuck Curve:

If they’re too deep in Yuck, neither of these strategies will work… and you might need to simply let them they travel the Yuck Curve, which will allow them to (eventually) recognize they are safe. and 

Once they have traveled the Yuck Curve, they will be able to access the rational part of their brain that can see the big picture and solve problems.

THEN you can slowly start to help them make a plan to handle the situation.



– Example: When-then statements to support an anxious child

– Script: When your child is worried and won’t listen to reason

 – Say this, not that when discussing difficult situations

Say this, not that to support a child who is worrying

Say this, not that to respond effectively to a child’s concerns

Say this, not that when your child is hesitant to do things


Identify Anxiety ROADBLOCKS

Let’s identify WHY your child is feeling anxious to begin with.

Remember that roadblocks are usually related to your Expectations, their missing Skills, or their Yuck.

How our expectations cause roadblocks

  • We expect children to just “push through” things that scare them and that they should just be able to DO simple things like say hi to others or try something new (that we know they’ll like) 
  • After a while (especially when we use willpower to support them), we often approach them from a place of Yuck, which increases their anxiety 

Some skills they are missing that become roadblocks:

  • The ability to cope effectively with discomfort or transitions 
  • The ability to solve problems. They can perceive almost any issue as a problem, which creates a threat in their brain. 

Yuck that turns into roadblocks:

  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling less secure, based on past experience or the way they tend to perceive the world in general 

Remember to choose ONE roadblock that you have the desire and energy to tackle now. You can come back to the others later!

Build Your ROUTINES to Lessen Anxiety

Now we’ll identify a proactive ROUTINE (that you can take action on!) that will start to lessen their anxiety… and help them cope effectively when it does occur

Consider these routines to address the roadblock you choose:

Expectations-based Routines

  • ROADBLOCK: Setting unrealistic expectations that align with your values (and your Parenting Avatar), not your Yuck/fears.
    Routine: Understand your Parenting Avatar

Skill-based Routines

Yuck-based Routines


Sample Completed 4R Response Plans for Addressing Anxiety

Want some examples? Check out these completed plans:


Extra Resources

If you’ve got your plan, but want to learn even more strategies for what causes this behavior, and how to deal with it, I’ve included videos and podcast episodes for you below:

Document: Yuck Release Strategies

Video: How to encourage a shy child to speak to adults

Video: When your child is anxious or worried, don’t cheer them up. Do this instead.

Podcast: Helping children with anxiety

Past Questions from Parents