Underneath all anxiety – no matter what type of anxiety it is – is an undercurrent of fear. The undercurrent of fear is what dislodges us from rational thinking, makes our minds race and our hearts beat fast. It’s this undercurrent that keeps us constantly worrying, our minds constantly going and it’s only in focusing on the undercurrent that progress can be made.
Too often, we get tangled up in the things that make us (or our kids) worry. We stay above the fear and try to fix what we think is broken. We try to navigate problems hoping that if the problems go away, anxiety will go away. If we could just get our child in a different homeroom, things will be better. If that dreadful kid who is terrorizing our child would move, things will improve. If we don’t make our child go to the soccer tryout or allow him to quit piano, it will make all the difference. But this doesn’t work because just when we think we’ve resolved one issue, another one pops up.
This manipulation of life to reduce anxiety-provoking feelings causes life to get very small. By resisting what makes you anxious, you may feel better in the short-term but in the long-term anxiety will only increase. When kids stop going to play dates, sleep away camps and trying out for new teams in an effort to reduce anxiety they miss out on valuable experiences that will help them grow. They also lose the ability to handle anxiety-provoking events and the confidence in knowing they can do hard things.
Instead, teach your child coping strategies to help him handle the fear. No matter what your child faces, he can say, “I feel worried. When I feel worried I can (insert tool such as Square Breathing) to feel better. This makes anxiety much more simple for both you and your child to handle.
Next time your child comes home with a fear instead of trying to solve it, go underneath it and see lasting change.
Have a great week everyone!