PSP 074: If you are Raising an Anxious Child – You Need to Hear These 5 Things!

Raising an anxious child is hard. I mean really hard. I get it, I have three of them. I also get it because anxious kids and exhausted parents come into my office day after day. I hear the same stories over and over. I see the same struggles rearing its ugly head.


You are not alone.


[to listen to the podcast version of this article, scroll to the bottom and hit play]

Raising an anxious child can be ridiculously hard. These are five things every parent needs to hear.

Those of us in the trenches with you get it. We get the long nights. We get the battles. We get the need to talk your child off the ledge day after day, week after week.


If I had the ability to whisper four words of wisdom to you, as a mother raising an anxious child and a therapist who helps anxious children, it would be these.

 

#1. It’s not your fault.


Did you hear me? Stop it. Stop blaming yourself.

Raising an anxious child can be ridiculously hard. These are five things every parent needs to hear.

 

The reality is – anxiety has a strong genetic component. So, the WHY part of this equation is useless and counterproductive.


So instead of asking yourself – who is to blame for this nightmare, as yourself what can I do to help.


Speaking of which, that brings me to…


#2. One word. Neuroplasticity.


That is actually a beautiful word my friend. It means we all have the power to literally change our brain.


Changing your thoughts and behavior will literally change your brain.

Say what?! True!

There have been some incredible discoveries in the research around neuroplasticity. My favorite book that talks in plain English about this topic is Brain Lock by Jeffrey Schwartz. Definitely worth the read (or listen)!

 

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So, what does that mean when you are raising an anxious child?


It means that when your child learns how to crush their anxiety, they can make long-term differences in their brain.


We can’t control genetics, but we can control what we do with them. We can teach our kids not to be victim to their genetics.


With determination, strength and persistence your child can crush their anxiety.

But, this brings me to…


#3. Remember, battling anxiety is a marathon not a sprint!


Raising an anxious child can make a parent anxious – seriously! We want our kids to succeed, so with every refusal, every fear, every setback – it is hard to not see how this will impact them in the long-term.


Three words. Focus on today.

 

Raising an anxious child can be ridiculously hard. These are five things every parent needs to hear.


And what is right in front of you?


Small victories. Little wins. Daily struggles that are overcome. Rome wasn’t built in one day and either is crushing anxiety.


Celebrate the small wins. Recognize that each step your child takes away from fear is a step towards the finish line.


Realize that just like life, there will be setbacks, bumps and derailments. That’s okay. That is part of the journey. Life isn’t a straight line, and either is a child’s battle with anxiety.


Skills will temporarily be forgotten. Gains will sometimes turn into losses. It doesn’t mean all your child’s hard work (and yours) is gone, it just means you hit a bump.


When we hit a bump, we dust ourselves off and start again. When we get lemons, what do we do…we make lemonade!


Which leads me to…


#4. Your child is more than their anxiety.


When we are raising a child with anxiety we can get so consumed with the issues that we forget to look beyond the issues.


Our children are more than their anxiety.


What makes your child sparkle? What makes them shine?

Raising an anxious child can be ridiculously hard. These are five things every parent needs to hear.


Also, even though anxiety is a beast that needs to be splayed (just sayin’) – don’t forget to celebrate the beautiful attributes anxiety often brings.


Anxious kids are often more…

Kind hearted
Considerate
Intelligent
Insightful
Analytical
Observant
Empathetic
Respectful
Polite

What words would you use to describe your child?

Lastly…


#5. If you think this is your problem, you have a bigger problem than you realize.


Having anxiety isn’t fun and it can dull our children’s sparkle. But only your child can clear off all that grime to show the world their shine (or more importantly – to show it to themselves).


We must always remember:


This is your child’s journey, you are just a passenger along for the ride.

Raising an anxious child can be ridiculously hard. These are five things every parent needs to hear.


That doesn’t mean you don’t help or build their skills, but ultimately, they will have to pick up the tools and use those skills themselves.


Sometimes you can’t do more – change happens at our child’s pace.


Sometimes you can’t catch your child before they fall – some of the best learning happens after a tumble.


You are the anchor in your child’s storm, but you can’t go through it for them.


What advice would you give other parents raising an anxious child? Leave it in the comments below.

 

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One response to “PSP 074: If you are Raising an Anxious Child – You Need to Hear These 5 Things!”

  1. Jana says:

    One if my 8 yr. old twin grandsons (I’m raising them) has been diagnosed and has terrible OCD, (with a bit of trauma in the mix as well). I’m not sure exactly how long he’s had it, but I didn’t notice it until about two-and-a-half 3 years ago. it was heartbreaking as he would come in my room in the middle of the night with his little face just soaking wet as he’d been crying because of the over whelming thoughts and worries that he had been laying in bed thinking of for hours. He still has it terribly bad, but with the support of the school and through therapy and meditation he’s really come a long way. I walked into the garage not too long ago and he was sitting in a chair with his bicycle helmet on in criss cross applesauce position with his little fingers on his knees counting, his eyes were closed and he was meditating himself out of an angry situation that he was in with his brother. I’ve seen him start to get worked up and then take a deep breath and walk away. I’ve seen him remove himself from situations and just go in his room to calm himself down all on his own. I love that we have an open communication so that if something is bothering him he comes to me when we talked it through and he’s able to see the different sides to a situation and get calmed down. It doesn’t always go that easy, but like you were saying you’ve got to hang on to those little victories because each and every one of them is a confirmation that he truly has been listening to his therapist and meditation and myself and he does actually retain the information and use the tools. Like you said ultimately it’s going to be up to him to figure out how to navigate through all of this. I also wanted to say that everything you listed that an anxious child or child with OCD has describes every single thing my little guy is. some days I literally think I’m talking to a 45 year old adult, he is amazing, loving and empathetic an everything else that you listed. One more thing I did want to say, is if there are other children in the house that do not have these same issues, it’s important to make sure that to ask how they’re doing, and continue to check in with them. I know there are times when the twin brother, or even his older sister get very concerned/worried about whether or not their brother’s going to be okay.
    So happy I found this article.

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