TAKING THE LEAP
It was a Sunday afternoon when we entered the busy, noisy environment of Inflatable World. Despite some initial hesitation, my two kids ran off to play with their friends. They can be anxious in noisy social settings so I was a little nervous myself! However, there was no sobbing in my lap, begging to leave or hiding under the table shaking. Phew.
I found my daughter standing at the top of the “Cliff Jump”, a 2m high platform with another inflated platform 1m below. My daughter had watched many other children do the jump and she really wanted to do it herself. I watched quietly as she took a deep breath and walked to the edge of the “cliff”.
She bent her knees and prepared to jump. But then she hesitated.
She was talking to herself and making a conscious effort to take deep breaths. Then she would get scared and shrink back against the wall. She went backwards and forwards like this for about ten minutes.
And then she jumped.
I was so happy for her. Not because she made the jump, but because she worked really hard to break through her fear, enabling her to enjoy what was on the other side.
We all want our children to have the strength, confidence and coping skills to decide for themselves whether it’s safe to jump towards the scary things in their lives, but sometimes we feel frustrated, powerless and unsure of HOW to help.
Helping your child learn to manage their anxiety is the same as teaching them any other skill. It requires time, patience, compassion and parental education. Parents have great power and a wonderful opportunity to help our anxious children live a life where anxiety doesn’t limit their potential and joy.
My intention is to empower you with information and tools which you can use to teach your anxious child the skills needed to minimise the frequency, duration and severity of their anxiety.
Some important first points to be aware of –
- Anxiety causes our kids to freeze, fight or run away from the thing they believe is a threat to their safety.
- If they learn to stop, calm down, and bring their rational thinking brain back online, they can look at each situation clearly and make a choice about what to do next.
- The thoughts and images they see in their heads create genuine fear which can lead to resistance and avoidable of pleasurable or necessary daily activities. This can make every day as the parent of an anxious child very difficult and exhausting.
- Your child isn’t trying to be manipulative, difficult or weak. Their anxiety is very real and can be very hard to move through if they haven’t yet learnt how.
- Kids need their parents help in the moments when they are anxious and their guidance on how to manage in the future.
I’ll be sharing the information in depth over the coming weeks as there is a lot to cover. We’ll focus on one thing at a time and you’ll get one or two ideas to try each week which you can build upon.
Thank you for reading this and wanting the very best for your children. We love your feedback so please leave us your questions and comments.