Anxiety has a way of clouding over the brightest days. For some kids, anxiety can stand in the way of school camp, parties, sleepovers, performing, hanging out with friends, trying a new activity, joining a sports team, relaxing and even going to school. These are just a handful of examples of what anxious kids can miss out on. Many other anxious kids try to engage in these types of activities but with a furrowed brow and a head full of worries, they may be present in body but their minds are elsewhere.
When did the anxiety start?
I can’t remember a time in my life where I was anxiety free. I know for sure by the time I was 4 I was experiencing symptoms that are classic signs of anxiety but of course my parents never interpreted my symptoms that way. Anxiety wasn’t on the radar 40 years ago the way it is now.
Anxious kids of today have the benefit of decades of research into the condition. We now understand where anxiety originates in the brain, how the body and brain react to anxiety and why, what works to help calm an anxious brain, how to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t stand in the way of what’s important, and the ways in which lifestyle choices make a profound difference in the life of an anxious child.
What have I learned about anxiety?
My experience as an anxious kid and an anxious adult have driven in me a commitment to understanding anxiety, how to manage it so that it no longer gets in the way of living a wonderful life and sharing that knowledge widely. I’ve learned to turn down the dial on my anxiety so that it’s mostly just background noise instead of an alarm constantly putting my system on high alert. Sure, it flares up every now and again but now I get it. I can identify anxiety when I feel it; I can often, but not always, understand why it shows up; I can put into place the strategies I know to reduce my anxiety and, importantly, I’ve learned to notice and accept my anxiety, and to keep doing the things that matter to me.
What can you do to help your child?
You can help your children learn to do the same. Michael Grose and I wrote ‘Anxious Kids: How children can turn their anxiety into resilience’ to help you do just that. We’re incredibly proud of our book and the meaningful difference we know it will make to your anxious child, to you and your family. It’s worrying and anxiety provoking when you have an anxious child. And anxiety can be ‘contagious’ where your anxious child might trigger your anxieties and ‘what ifs’ about their health, wellbeing and future. Equally, if you’re feeling anxious you might talk and behave in ways that cause your child or children to inadvertently ‘catch’ your anxiety and begin to feel anxious themselves.
Our book is a roadmap to teaching your child to manage their anxiety and live life in full colour. In the book you’ll learn just how big a problem anxiety is nowadays, what happens in an anxious brain and body, strategies to support you to parent your anxious child, tools to help your child manage their anxiety, the lifestyle factors that support an anxious kid to thrive and how to manage significant anxiety issues.
No doubt if you’re parenting an anxious child you want to act now to begin supporting your anxious child. Here’s how you can get started:
- Ensure your child is getting ample sleep
- Encourage your child to exercise every day
- Introduce a breathing or mindfulness practice to the whole family
- Bring more calm to your home by managing your own stress and the family calendar
These are just a handful of anxiety management tools we explore in depth in the book. Others tools support anxious children to manage their worries, to move on from unhelpful thinking and to understand their values and how they can continue in the direction of their values taking their anxiety along for the ride.
Anxious Kids: How children can turn their anxiety into resilience is the book I wish my parents and teachers had when I was a child. Your child is so very lucky to have you as a parent who’s noticed their struggle, is keen to learn more to help them and has access to resource to support you to parent your anxious child every step of the way.
Find out more about the book here
Jodi is on a mission to elevate mental health and wellbeing in families, classrooms and workplaces.
Calm your anxious brain
Calm your anxious brain
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