Is Anxiety Ruling Your Home?
Posted: March 31, 2022
Here's what anxiety is, why it's often so hard to understand, and how to help relieve it in your child.
Anxiety is a physiological response to a former fear or threat. It's also known as "fear where there's no present threat," which is what makes it hard to understand. Your child has a safe home, enough food, clothes, medical care, transportation, education and your dedication to their well-being. So what's the issue? Why all the unfounded fear?
Especially in sensitive kids, the fear settles in after a string of big and/or small traumas that could even have happened in utero, outside of your knowledge. It seems like you've seen everything your child has had happen, but you really haven't. This fear lives in them uninvited. It erodes their sense of EMOTIONAL safety, which is as vital to their health as physical safety. You then see a child with a huge desire to control the situation, which comes out as opposition, negative language, refusals, and disrespect. Or at least it feels that way to you. The desire to control one's parents and environment is simply an attempt to make things more predictable and less anxiety producing. That's all.
Let me draw you in to a new role. Instead of thinking, "That was so disrespectful and I can't let this child get away with it," try the more compassionate approach. "I wonder what's hurting inside my child. It seems like she's in more fear than seems warranted. I'm going to try to get to that emotion and relieve it." You are now what I call a clinical parent. You don't have to take it personally when your child feels overwhelmed and reacts with big emotions. It's not personal. You can take a broader view and say, "What's the source of this outburst and how can I assist?" It relieves you of the feeling that your child is way out of line and needs correcting. It relieves you of guilt over raising such an out-of-control kid. It helps you be much more effective in lessening the outbursts in frequency and duration. You are an empowered clinical parent.
The amazing thing is that your relationship as a parent to your anxious child is THE most powerful one in their life. When you know what to do, you are unstoppable in your healing abilities. You get to employ reflective listening, heartfelt appreciation, "I See You" letters, family meetings and being in the present moment in a way no one else can even come close to touching.
I'll tell you this, your kids always need you. They may look as if they can't stand the sight or sound of you, but underneath that display of anxiety is a deep yearning to be seen and heard by you. In other words, they need you but they can't let you know. That is, they can't let you know until the healing begins. And when it does, you'll be dazzled by the results.
For details on the parenting tools above, read or listen to my book "Present Moment Parenting: The Guide to a Peaceful Life with Your Intense Child."
And for coaching support in implementing the tools, click here.
My aim is to help you realize that there's enormous hope for healing childhood anxiety. Is today your day to get started?