When our kids struggle with anxiety, we can feel so helpless, unsure of what to do. And anxiety among kids is increasing. Whether due to the pandemic, or for other reasons, anxiety is on the rise in every age group. Stress is at an all-time high.
Today we are going to explore ways to help our kids with anxiety with Dr. Chip Dodd, counselor, speaker, mentor, and author of "The Voice of the Heart" and numerous other books centered on emotions and healing.
What is anxiety?
Dr. Dodd shares that, "Anxiety is a physiological, central nervous system reaction, to thoughts we are having about anticipated disaster. It is always related to future trepidation about something happening that we're not sure about." Anxiety leads us to seek something outside of ourselves to control and quell those feelings of uncertainty.
Fear, however, is an emotion. Fear tells us we are in danger of something happening that we don't want to happen. It's a feeling we've been given that allows us to ask for help. When we express a fear vulnerably, it sets us up to be able to prevent the thing we fear and it also provides a place for us to go back to to process what did or didn't happen.
Fear can push us to connection as we seek help whereas anxiety can push us into isolation. Anxiety and fears are both thermostats that can lead us to seek help.
Children get anxious about what is happening and about what could happen next. They aren't sure where the truth is. They are guessing at how to find level ground. Adults are often anxious about what has already happened or what could happen again. Kids are most often anxious about their two biggest fear - not belonging and not mattering.
Social media platforms are a huge contributor to these anxieties because they don't affirm how we're created. They actually go against it. This is why home base has to be a safeplace where your family can process what is happening below the surface. We need to be able to talk about our spiritual root system - our feelings, needs, longings, desires, and hopes.
So often we don't want our kids to suffer, to have negative thoughts, or to feel bad. We don't want them to feel anxious so we try to "fix" it but actually feeling their fears isn't the problem. The problem is denying how they are feeling.
It's a natural response to feel fear in situations we don't have a sense of empowerment over or where we aren't in control. Kids are often afraid of the dark because it's full of unknowns. Yet, kids are willing to go into the dark if they have someone to go with them and to hold their hand. So, children aren't actually afraid of the dark. They are afraid of being alone in the dark, of being uncared for in the dark, of not being seen or heard in the dark. If a child is allowed to have their feelings and process them, when the parent says, "It's okay for you to feel afraid", we are teaching our kids they can be real and not have to fake it or pretend. This allows them to embrace their humanity and not disassociate from it which actually increases anxiety.
So, how can we walk with our kids through their anxiety?
The number one thing is to acknowledge the difference between anxiety and fear.
For complete show notes and links go to - https://soloparentsociety.com/blog/2021/03/29/chip-dodd-helping-our-kids-with-anxiety