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.
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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.
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)!
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.
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.
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?
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…
What words would you use to describe your child?
#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.
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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