Laura Crowley BA ECS MA Ed is an educational consultant, mother and lecturer who has a holistic approach to social skill development. She specialises in anxiety, autism, sensory play and self care on her Instagram account @social_connect_series
I have battled anxiety for as long as I can remember. I say battled but it is no more past tense than the current pandemic. I only finally learned how to manage my anxiety in my thirties, but now my one wish, is that my children will grow up with those tools tucked into their belts daily. If your little one struggles, here’s what you should understand about anxiety:
- Anxiety is a normal emotion
Like happiness and sadness, anxiety is a normal emotion. However much we hate it, we cannot get rid of it any more than we can get rid of happiness. We must learn to live with it.
- The physical symptoms of anxiety are not imagined
If you child complains of aches, pains or feeling sick when anxious, these ailments are very real. Their little bodies are gone into survival mode and they are awash with hormones to make them alert and ready to react.
- It may not be scary for you, but that fear is no less real for your little one.
Anxiety is our bodies survival tactic but the part of the brain that controls it, is a doer, not a thinker. It does not logically examine risk, it just acts. The fear your child feels, may be caused by something innocuous, but that does not diminish their fear.
- Telling them to calm down will not work
In a state of fear, calm cannot be realised easily. They need to be shown how to calm. Model breathing exercises for them, talk calmly to them and praise every effort.
Once you identify anxiety in your little one, open the lines of communication and listen without judgement or negotiation. Be their ally in the darkness.