“My chest hurts. I have a stomach ache. I feel overwhelmed and want to go be alone because there are too many people”. These are all things that I have heard my middle child say multiple times in the past. And I never once thought too much into it each time she would speak her mind mid birthday party about how she wants to be alone because there are too many people. Then one day I read about a child who had anxiety. I started to realize that my own child was showing signs of being completely overwhelmed and anxious about life and people even at her young age. I think we forget that our children endure most of the same problems we as adults do. Depression, anxiety, stress. Our children are feeling things and we just assume that because they are children they don’t have anything thing to be anxious about.
We educate our children on a lot of things. It is what we do as parents. We teach them right from wrong, respect and how to love others, helping when they need help and how to love themselves. But we forget to educate them on big things like what to do if they feel their chest tightening, how that can be a sign that their brain and body is just overwhelmed and they should remove themselves from the situation. How when we as adults fight in front of kids that the stress travels to our children stressing them out making them anxious over everything. How when huge life changing events happen in our lives that we aren’t the only ones suffering and dealing. They don’t know that these feelings are normal and that it is okay to talk about it with someone and that it is okay to open up. They just think “oh well my chest hurts this must be normal although I feel completely off and can’t process it, oh well it will get better soon then I can go play”.
We need to educate our children that these feelings are something they can overcome and that they should never feel embarrassed about and they shouldn’t have to just deal with it. Talk to them about anxiety and what it means and go over different de stressing techniques like breathing patterns, how to remove themselves from a stressful situation. How to talk about their feelings and symptoms with you because you are the best person for them to come to. You also need to stop and evaluate what is causing this anxiety for them. Are you fighting with someone in front of them, are you constantly talking about money and personal issues that may travel their way. Or are they just naturally anxious about things. I know that I am naturally anxious but I also have a lot of triggers that spark up anxiety. Get to the root of it all and instead of saying “Oh this is bad that you have this” say “So many people and children have anxiety, let’s figure out how we can help you before, during and after you have an anxiety attack”.
These big issues aren’t ever going to go away but today it starts with you educating them because tomorrow is a new day for them, new stresses and a fresh opportunity for them to learn how to be happy while dealing with anxiety.
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