my friend has had a near life–long battle with anxiety. now her daughter, who is about 8, faces a continual struggle with anxiety. she was looking for some ideas so i passed along some that would hopefully be helpful to her and her daughter. i realize that i could also benefit from the “medicine” i gave her. my hope is it might help you, too.
i read recently that worry is one of the largest contributors to anxiety. think about it on a k. level. thoughts like, ” if i get this answer wrong, i worry that someone will think less of me. on a t. level, there are similar, but different thoughts like, “i know what anxiety has done to me, i worry that k. is going to have the same awful struggles.”
enter a worry free zone. k. would say, “i don’t care what they think, i’m doing the best i can with the tools i have.” t. would say, “sure, k. will struggle with worry and anxiety. it’s my job to lead her through it so it has less control over her. i have to remind her, that if she gets a flash card wrong, that i don’t love or care for her any less. that if she misspells a word at school, that’s not a failure, but an opportunity to learn. when kids play the comparison game, i can teach her and remind her that even though they say you are less, i love you more than ever.” the success lay in teaching, giving her tools and letting her use her tools to the best of her abilities.
ya, ya, i bet at times, because of your own struggles with anxiety, you worry that it’s the blind leading the blind. that’s true, but you are learning. you explore books, reach out to friends and try trial and error. remember, mistakes are just another opportunity to learn. in the process you make k.’s life better, even if it is in the smallest of ways. and more importantly you are teaching her with your effort and dedication that big problems can be made smaller.
i know you’ve do/done therapy and i very much honor that. have you explored other ways to get the upper hand on anxiety? this article is a start. here are the tools. a “kid-ized” versions are in parenthesis. the square brackets are my additional thought.
- set aside a designated “worry time. (try to get your worries out in one session, and try to minimize your worries outside of that.) [at times, i set aside the first five minutes of the hour for worry. i attempt to not worry outside of that time. for k., maybe set aside one minute at the beginning of an assignment for her worry. she could even do that is school by staring are the white part of the page fore a minute so it looks like she is doing something.that could be her worry time.]
- kick your online addiction. (if you are on the computer, be on it to better yourself or others.)
- be mindful. (concentrate on doing one thing at a time.)
- accept the worry — and then move on. ( worrying is okay. do it and move on.)
- write you worries down. (write your worries down.)[by recognizing and acknowledging our monsters, they become a known enemy and are more easily defeated.]
- cut yourself some slack. (mistakes are okay. know that you don’t have to be perfect.)
- keep your hands busy. (get k. a “worry” ring. tell her when she begins to worry, spin the ring around her finger.)
- take time for meditation. (take time to quiet your mind) [prayer is a form of meditation. i don’t mean grace or bedtime prayer, though they are good. quiet the mind and thank god for your graces and ask him for help in your struggles. for a child, start with thirty seconds and hopefully build up to at least 5 minutes. the main purpose if mediation to practice turning off the internal chatter that tends to invade our mind to bring us closer to a union with god.]
- get your heart pumping. (go run around for a half hour.)
these are not easy and even feel unnatural to a person who deals with worry and anxiety . with practice, these can become closer to second nature. with that, take time to practice. k. spends twenty minutes practicing the piano, and a half hour on homework. isn’t it just as important that she take 15 minutes daily learning how to get on top of her worry? i think that would be a fruit endeavor and even a challenge to you and even myself.