Helping Anxious Kids Change Teachers or Therapists Change is hard on most kids, but it can be especially hard on anxious kids. So what happens when they have to change their teacher or therapist? It can be rough, especially if they were well bonded to the teacher or therapist before the change.Change offers our kids the ability to practice flexibility and can build their adaptation […]
How Living in the Moment Can Help Kids with Anxiety It’s nice to live in the moment, be in the now. But what if it could be more than nice? What if it could help reduce your child’s level of anxiety? What if it can train your child’s brain to stay connected and not live in the trauma of “what if’s?” In this latest episode […]
Motivating Kids by Asking, “What is Anxiety or OCD Ruining for You?” It can be hard to motivate kids to work on anxiety or OCD. It can be a hard sell to tell them that the more they do hard things, the easier it will become. Anxiety or OCD can be demanding and convincing. So how are we supposed to motivate our kids to work […]
Is Anxiety in Children Common? Helping Kids Realize They are Not Alone. One thing that prevents kids from working on anxiety is….embarrassment. To work on anxiety, kids have to admit there is an issue. For some kids that is too much. They don’t believe anxiety in children is common. They feel embarrassed to have anxiety. They feel like they are weird – like they are […]
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.
The stress of school is finally over! No more homework battles, no more school refusal! Just pure relaxation. But summer isn’t always as easy as it seems for kids with anxiety and OCD.
When a child is not busy with after school activities, projects and huge assignments, their mind is available for other things. And more often than not those “other things” aren’t pretty. New anxiety themes pop up. New compulsions surface. Old What Ifs take hold. When there are no distractions anxiety and OCD can take center stage. So how can you save their summer and your sanity?
One of the most frustrating aspects of raising an anxious child is the lack of understanding other people have for your struggles. Insensitive comments, criticisms or “helpful” advice can leave you feeling inadequate and insecure. Bringing up an anxious child takes a unique set of skills and a completely different parenting style.
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.
The hardest part about having anxiety is the onslaught of anxious thoughts day after day after day. Now imagine you are just a kid. A kid who is learning how to tie his shoes. To multiply and divide. To make friends and keep friends. The constant flood of anxious thoughts is enough to make a child stop dead in their tracks. It is enough to make them want to retreat, to not get out of bed. It can derail their education and their ability to socialize.
Anxiety and OCD love to hide. They love when kids deny they exist. They love when you can’t see them. They love when they are missed. So it makes sense that the first line of defense in your child’s battle with anxiety or OCD should be communication. When your child learns how to talk about anxiety and OCD – the problems can no longer hide.
So you might be saying, yeah that’s great, but how exactly do I get my kid to talk? Well that might be a bit tricky. Some kids don’t like to talk about anxiety or OCD. Some kids want to deny they are having issues right up until they implode. And some kids just need a little help with how to communicate such overwhelming and often embarrassing feelings.
If you want some creative ideas on how to get kids to talk about anxiety and OCD, have them watch this YouTube video I created just for them. I talk about why it is important that they communicate with you about their struggles and some out of the box ideas on how to do it!
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?!
You are in the car trying to coax your child to go to school. You are in their bedroom trying to help them calm down. You are at the dinner table, negotiating what they will eat. All the while, little eyes watch from a distance. They watch as they are late to school. They listen as they wait for you to come into their room. They silently eat as all eyes are focused on the little mouth that refuses to eat. They quickly move out of the way, when angry, anxious fists come flying in their direction. Having a sibling with child OCD or anxiety can be overwhelming, confusing and scary.
Anxiety likes victims. It likes followers. Anxiety likes to bully, dictate and control every thought, action and decision. Anxiety… completely sucks. So how do you help your child who is genetically doomed to live life in the shadows of anxiety? How do you teach them that there are other options – that being a victim isn’t the only choice. How do you empower your child to fight anxiety?
As parents, we have a big role in empowering our children to fight anxiety. We can inadvertently teach them how to be anxiety’s victim or how to be anxiety’s slayer. I opt for the latter. How about you?
Your child is refusing to get out of the car. “What’s wrong!” You ask, growing more impatient. “I don’t want to go.” Your child pouts. “But why?” You beg, glancing at the time and wondering what excuse you’ll tell your boss this time. “I just don’t want to!” She screams at you. You’ve done this dance many times before. You wonder, how are you supposed to help a child with anxiety when they won’t even talk about it?