RECENTLY I was having a conversation with a friend.
We were chatting about parenting and children, and as usual - for me anyways - anxiety was discussed.
We noted the increase of anxiety in young children and parents concern with this.
Nobody really teaches us the strategies we need for developing healthy thinking patterns in our children. Strategies that can help reduce anxious responses, and build skills of resilience in our families.
More often than not, we get help much later than needed for early intervention to occur effectively. Parents often get to the point where they are desperate for specific tools to STOP feeding the anxiety monster. He can be one scary, hungry, monster! And once he gets kinda big he can be much harder to ignore and stop feeding.
So here are just a few tips for some Family Responses that might help. And yes, I say family responses as EVERYONE in the family can work on NOT feeding the anxiety monster.
These responses are helpful in general, every day interactions and usually not when our child is in a highly anxious state or what parents often describe as a "meltdown".
Ideas for the younger kids -
- Oh gosh, that worry/anxiety monster is trying to trick my brain again!!!
- Is that the anxiety monster talking or is that you?
- Oh poop, that worry monster is here, what can we do to chase him away?
- Deep breaths....we are safe right now.
- Oh my goodness we are so stressed right now, lets shake all off !! (Shake it off dance)
- That anxiety monster can't boss me around. I am the boss of my brain and my body.
- Do you have your worry pants on? Let's go find your happy calm pants for you...
- I can see that you are doing the best right now - awesome effort! Let's push that worry away!
Ideas for older kids -
- Lets see what happens. Maybe it won't be as bad as you think. Maybe that's just anxious thinking or worry?
- Remember that time you were really worried or scared and you got through that.
- It's not the end of the world. Sometimes I even joke - Oh my goodness, its the end of the world, we are all going to die!!!!!! (and brace myself by grabbing the nearest person or furniture in pretend fear.)
- Do you think in a weeks/months time you will be worried about this....Let it go, Let it go! (Yes I am singing the frozen song right now)
- So what!
- We will be ok. You are great at ......e.g. learning and making huge efforts.
- Sometimes bad stuff happens, but look at you - you have gotten through it one step at a time.
- Anxiety is just a feeling. It's not who you are.
- Things are hard right now, lets give our body some deep calming breaths.
- Hey! I am doing my best right now. That's all we need to do.
- Oh well, let's review that. What would you do differently next time. What can we learn from this?
- I am worried or anxious right now, but I am also safe. I have people here that love and support me.
And of course, if you are ever unsure, don't hesitate to seek professional help. If you are wrong and your child is ok - you have done the right thing. If your child is not ok - then you have also done the right thing!
We are soon to start a regular interview series with Rachelle and would love to know any questions you may have that you would like her to answer?
Written by Rachelle Mortensen
Rachelle is a Clinical Social Worker. She has been running her own counselling practice for over 10 years and also provides training and supervision to welfare and educational professionals.
Rachelle works clinically in mental health treating anxiety, depression, and trauma (and a long list of other issues) and over her years of practice has gained a lot of experience and diverse skills around behavioural issues, autism, learning disorders, sensory and developmental issues.
This article appears at www.thehappymeshop.com.au and is republished with permission.