February 8, 2019
My Child has Anxiety. What do I need to know?
Having a child who develops symptoms of anxiety is awful. We worry about our children, but even worse, we feel so helpless as parents when we don’t know how to soothe them.
Soothing children is a primary function of being a parent, and so we end up feeling powerless when we can’t do so. We try our best to talk them out of the anxiety, to show them logically that what they are afraid of makes no sense. But the more we seem to talk them out of the anxiety, the more anxious they seem to get. And where does this leave us? If we can’t explain to them that their anxiety is irrational, then how do we help them? There is nothing rational about anxiety, it’s not a problem that we can fix by being rational. The good news is, that there is a lot that can be done. The body cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time, and so learning how to soothe and bring the nervous system into a state of calm, will diminish the anxiety. There are countless ways of doing this and you can learn how to master these.
Anxiety is the most common emotional childhood disorder, and so learning to help children overcome this is important and will equip them with life-long skills. In fact, most adults can relate to having felt anxious at some point, and so you have the best resource within yourself, relating to how they feel in these moments of terror, and letting them know that they are not alone. Anxious moments are also common to growing up, almost like growing pains are to growth. They come during the various life stages and can be momentary as we adjust to the new challenges that life presents. Putting these symptoms into perspective, distinguishing when they are diagnosable vs a developmental growth phase is important. But either way, there is a lot to be learnt in how to reduce anxiety, which will equip you with valuable tools in managing life. Learning these tools goes hand in hand with slowing down when these symptoms arise, to evaluate your life style, to reduce stress, to listen to your child in a new way and to figure out what they need in order to be the very best version of them.
Start with learning as much about the anxiety as possible. Slowing down and tracking the symptoms, will be helpful in determining the cause of the anxiety, which will be helpful in treating it. The slowing down can be especially difficult, because anxiety breeds anxiety. We start to feel anxious ourselves that our children are anxious. And if we get caught up in a stressed-out brain and system, then we can’t see things and think clearly enough to figure out where the solutions may lie. As the airplane philosophy always reminds parents, put the oxygen mask on yourself before you place it on your child. The same philosophy applies here. You are often your child’s regulator, and so breathing deeply and calming yourself down first, will go a far way in you being able to soothe to your child.
So let’s rally together, there’s a lot I’d like to share. Journey with me through this blog series, and let’s get the best of the anxiety that plagues your family.