Anxiety is a horrible thing. It just eats away at us on the inside, making life so much harder to deal with. It’s difficult enough for adults to cope with the feeling of anxiety, but imagine if you’re a child and don’t know what this is or what to do about it. The sad truth is that absolutely staggering numbers of children are fighting the terrible inner pain of anxiety. As a Mom and Dad, it is so painful to watch a beloved child, of any age, grapple with feelings of anxiety. We feel so helpless and unsure of how to take their anxiety away.
If you are the parent of an anxious child, a healthcare practitioner may have told you, ‘Your child is suffering from anxiety.’ Or you may have come to that conclusion on your own simply by observing your child’s behavior and listening to what your child tells you. But what does this term, ‘anxiety’ actually mean? We have been conditioned to think of ‘anxiety’ as though it were a disorder. BUT here’s the thing. We don’t have a blood test for it. We don’t have a brain test for it.
So, then exactly what is anxiety? And how do we treat it?
Anxiety is a message from your child that he or she does not feel good in their own skin. They have a feeling of unease about themselves which is caused by the belief that they are ‘Not Enough’. It is a feeling of unease about who they are and whether they are able to meet the expectations coming their way from their parents, teachers, friends and life in general.
Here’s how this plays out:
- Your child has an inner belief that who I am is ‘Not enough’
- This belief influences their thoughts. Their day is filled with thought after thought
about how they are not (smart, tough, pretty, athletic …) enough.
- They are filled with doubt that they can meet the demands and expectations of their parents, friends and school
- This creates an awful feeling inside that we call ‘ANXIETY.’
Treat the ROOT not the Anxiety.
Your healthcare practitioner may treat your child in one or both of these ways:
1. A prescription drug.
2. Diet and natural supplements.
My own preference is not to use prescription drugs for anxiety – neither for children, nor for adults. This is just a band-aid that masks the symptoms. I definitely approve of making adjustments to diet and adding natural supplements both of which can help to reduce and manage anxiety.
If we want to remove the anxiety, finally, once and for all, make the anxiety go away, we need to treat the real underlying root cause of the anxiety – the belief that, ‘ I am not enough’.
Beginning Steps to Change Your Child’s ‘I am Not Enough Belief… to …
1. Make the connection in your mind that your child’s feeling of anxiety is triggered by a belief – ‘I am not enough’.
2. Don’t try to fix your child. Start by fixing your communication. Listen to the things you say to your child and what you focus on. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of spending more time speaking about what’s not working. We do this because we love our kiddos and want to help them ‘get it right.’ Ask yourself: ‘Am I unintentionally focusing on, and speaking about all the negatives? (This is how children decide that they are ‘not enough)’
3. Starting today, begin counting at the end of each day how many negative versus positive messages you sent your child that day. Be sure to use the ratio of 5 positive conversations with your child (about him or her) to one negative.
This is a good and very important place to start. In future blogs I will share some more important and powerful ways to create a pathway in your child’s brain that tells your child, every day and in every way …
P.S. Although I have focused ion our wondrous kids in this blog – everything I said applies also to us as the adults in our child’s story.