PSP 195: How to Help Your Child Maintain Progress with Anxiety or OCD So your child has just crushed their anxiety or OCD. You are feeling on top of the world and so are they. Now what? This is often when the ball is dropped. It is often when the seeds of the next infestation of weeds are left to grow, unchecked and unmanaged. But […]
Moving our Kids with Anxiety or OCD from Dependency to Resiliency We all do things for our kids. But there comes a time when we do too much. We inadvertently send a message that they are not capable of doing things for themselves. Ironically this directly impacts their ability to independently fight their anxiety or OCD. In this episode of the AT Parenting Survival […]
If you want to not only survive, but thrive with anxiety – you have to learn how to protect the anxious mind. Our anxious minds are sponges to bad things. It files things away, only to torture us later on with it.
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.
Children will have a hard time getting anxiety relief if they don’t understand how anxiety works. Karen Young, the creator HeySigmund.com teaches us how to talk to our kids.
Kids can’t fight anxiety until they understand anxiety. Parents often skip this step and wonder why their child’s anxiety never gets better. The best way to help kids with anxiety is to take the time to explain how anxiety works. So how do you explain anxiety to them in a way where they’ll not only get it, but be motivated to work on it?
Have them watch my YouTube video made just for anxious kids to watch. In this short video I explain what anxiety is, why kids get it and how it works. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for new videos every week created just for kids with anxiety and OCD.
How many times have you heard people say things like,“you just coddle him too much” or “you just need to be tougher with her!” Some other oldies but goodies are, “She doesn’t act that way for me” and “he’ll grow out of it. Don’t worry.” Sometimes explaining anxiety to people who don’t get it can make your head spin. Trust me, I get it. I have bitten my tongue so many times – I have callouses. What about if those people are your other kids? What if you hear things like, “Why do you treat him like that?” or “If that was me I would totally get in trouble!” How can you explain anxiety to your other children so they can “get” their anxious sibling and maybe even help and not hurt the situation?
Your child is standing there, white-knuckled and pale as a ghost. “I can’t do it,” they whisper. “I’m scared.” You are about to offer words of encouragement when your partner chimes in. “Stop playing games and just do it!” You feel your stomach drop. You give your partner the death glare, but it has little effect as the tirade continues. “I’m tired of this! Just do it or you are grounded.” You stare at your child, wide-eyed and paralyzed with fear. You have two problems. A child with debilitating anxiety and a partner who doesn’t believe in anxiety disorders. What are you supposed to do with that?!
There were three words that would stop me dead in my tracks as a kid – We. Are. Moving. I didn’t handle change well and unfortunately my parents didn’t handle stability well. It was a bad combination for an anxious kid like me. I also felt silently overwhelmed when our family dog died, when I changed schools, when my parents got divorced and all the life that happened in between. So, how should parents help anxious kids deal with such big life changes? I can tell you what I tell parents in my therapy practice and privately what I wish my own parents would have done as well.
My daughter stands over the balcony. “I’m scared. I can’t sleep.” I look up at her little body. “Brave face!” I encourage. She sighs and then strikes her brave face power pose. Her head held up high, her arms on both hips, her lips pursed and eyes ready for battle. “Good!” I say. “Now what do you need to tell yourself?” She holds her pose and says the words I was hoping she would say, “I am safe in this house! We are all safe in this house!” And with that she is off to go try again.
Your son peeks his head out the window. His face pales. “Mom, is it supposed to rain today?” You look out the window. You see only one lonely cloud in the sky. “I don’t think so.” You respond. But you realize too late that your answer only fueled his concern. “You’re not sure?” He whines. You take a deep breath and prepare for the unraveling to begin. He does not disappoint. You know lots of kids are afraid of storms, but your child takes his fear to another level.
You tell your child to pick up their clothes and they crumble to the ground. “Why are you shouting at me!” They exclaim. Seriously? You just asked them to pick up their clothes. It seems like you can’t even redirect your anxious kid without them imploding. So what are you supposed to do? Not discipline? Walk on eggshells? Is that helpful or hurtful to them long-term?
To the Mother with the Anxious Child When many others only see your child throwing a fit, I see the woman struggling behind the chaos. I see you at the store, at swim class, hovering at the kindergarten fence. I see you – because I have been there. I am there. Having a child with anxiety is a private battle. A battle that plays out at […]
I decided I wanted to be a child therapist long before I ever had children. I finished graduate school before I even began motherhood. I knew all the signs and symptoms of every childhood mental health disorder before my first child entered the world. You would think I was well prepared. You would think if anyone could handle anxious kids – it would be me. Apparently […]
One would think that the idea of hiking with your three wonderfully appreciative children would be a good idea – foolish people! I guess I forgot that I have three anxious children who have never been hiking. It started out good for the first 30 seconds and then it started to unravel quick, fast and in a hurry…. (1st Child) Mom are there bears in […]