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Anxiety in Kids: How to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life

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Anxiety in Kids: The Skills to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life

Anxiety is a normal response to something dangerous or stressful. It becomes a problem when it shows up at unexpected times and takes a particularly firm hold. When anxiety is in full swing, it feels awful. Awful enough that anticipation of the feeling is enough in itself to cause anxiety. Anxiety in kids can be especially confusing , not only for the ones who are feeling anxious, but also for the adults who care about them. 

We already know that anxiety has nothing to do with strength, courage or character. It picks a target and it switches on.

When that target is a child or teen, it can be particularly distressing, causing problems with sleeping, eating and missed school from unexplained illnesses such as sick tummies or headaches. 

One of the worst things about anxiety in kids is the way it can happen without any identifiable cause. The physical feeling is familiar – that panicked feeling that comes when you miss a stair or as my daughter recently described, ‘that feeling you get when you’re almost asleep and you feel like you’re falling.’ (‘Yes, we’ve dealt with it in our home too. It’s under control now, so I can assure you this works.)

The good news is that anxiety in kids is very treatable and they are particularly responsive. I often think we don’t give them enough credit. They’re so open to possibility, and very quick to make the right connections when they’re given the right information and support. As the adult in their lives, you’re the perfect one to give it.

Anxiety in Kids and Teens: Turning it Around 

  • Don’t talk them out of it.

    As a parent, the temptation is to reassure your child with gentle comments in the way of, ‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ or ‘You’ll be fine‘.

    This comes from the purest of intentions but it runs the risk of them feeling as though there’s something wrong with them. The truth is that when anxiety has a hold of them, they can no sooner stop worrying than fly to the moon. As much as they want to believe you, their brains just won’t let them.

    What they need to hear is that you get it. Ask them what it feels like for them. They may or may not be able to articulate – and that’s okay. Then, ask if it’s ‘like that feeling you get when you miss a stair,’ (or ‘that feeling you get when you feel like you’re falling in your sleep’). Often, this in itself is such a relief because ‘someone gets it.’

  • Normalise.

    Explain that:

    •. Anxiety is normal and everyone experiences anxiety at some time in their life – before an exam, when meeting new people, going for an interview or starting at a new school.

    •  Sometimes it happens for no reason at all. That’s also normal. It happens to lots of adults and lots of kids but there are things you can do to make it go away. 

  • Explain why anxiety feels like it does.

    Out of everything, this is perhaps the most powerful intervention for anyone with anxiety. Anxiety in kids causes the most problems when it seems to come on without any real trigger. There’s a reason for this, and understanding the reason is key to managing the anxiety.

    Here is a child-friendly explanation. I’ve used it for a variety of ages, but nobody knows your child like you do so adjust it to suit. 

    ‘Anxiety is something that lots of people get but it feels different for everyone. Anxiety in kids is common, and lots of adults get it too. It happens because there’s a part of your brain that thinks there’s something it needs to protect you from. The part of the brain is called the amygdala. It’s not very big and it’s shaped like an almond.  

    It switches on when it thinks you’re in danger, so really it’s like your own fierce warrior, there to protect you. It’s job is to get you ready to run away from the danger or fight it. People call this ‘fight or flight’.

    If your amygdala thinks there’s trouble, it will immediately give your body what it needs to be strong, fast and powerful. It will flood your body with oxygen, hormones and adrenaline that your body can use as fuel to power your muscles to run away or fight. It does this without even thinking. This happens so quickly and so automatically. The amygdala doesn’t take time to check anything out. It’s a doer not a thinker – all action and not a lot of thought.

    If there is something dangerous – a wild dog you need to run away from, a fall you need to steady yourself from – then the amygdala is brilliant. Sometimes though, the amygdala thinks there’s a threat and fuels you up even though there’s actually nothing dangerous there at all. 

    Have you ever made toast that has got a bit burnt and set off the fire alarm? The fire alarm can’t tell the difference between smoke from a fire and smoke from burnt toast – and it doesn’t care. All it wants to do is let you know so you can get out of there. The amygdala works the same way. It can’t tell the difference between something that might hurt you, like a wild dog, and something that won’t, like being at a new school. Sometimes the amygdala just switches on before you even know what it’s switching on for. It’s always working hard to protect you – even when you don’t need protecting. It’s a doer not a thinker, remember, and this is how it keeps you safe.

    If you don’t need to run away or fight for your life, there’s nothing to burn all that fuel – the oxygen, hormones and adrenalin – that the amygdala has flooded you with. It builds up and that’s the reason you feel like you do when you have anxiety. It’s like if you just keep pouring petrol into a car and never take the car for a drive.

    So when the amygdala senses a threat it floods your body with oxygen, adrenaline and hormones that your body can use to fuel its fight or flight. When this happens:

    ♦   Your breathing changes from normal slow deep breaths to fast little breaths. Your body does this because your brain has told it to stop using up the oxygen for strong breaths and send it to the muscles to they can run or fight.

    When this happens you might feel puffed or a bit breathless. You also might feel the blood rush to your face and your face become warm.

    ♦    If you don’t fight or flee, the oxygen builds up and the carbon dioxide drops.

    This can make you feel dizzy or a bit confused.

    ♦   Your heart beats faster to get the oxygen around the body.

    Your heart can feel like it’s racing and you might feel sick.

    ♦   Fuel gets sent to your arms (in case they need to fight) and your legs (in case they need to flee).

    Your arms and legs might tense up or your muscles might feel tight.

    ♦   Your body cools itself down (by sweating) so it doesn’t overheat if it has to fight or flee

    You might feel a bit sweaty.

    ♦   Your digestive system – the part of the body that gets the nutrients from the food you eat – shuts down so that the fuel it was using to digest your food can be used by your arms and legs in case you have to fight or flee. (Don’t worry though – it won’t stay shut down for long.)

    You might feel like you have butterflies in your tummy. You might also feel sick, as though you’re going to vomit, and your mouth might feel a bit dry. 

    As you can see, there are very real reasons for your body feeling the way it does when you have anxiety. It’s all because your amygdala – that fierce warrior part of your brain – is trying to protect you by getting your body ready to fight or flee. Problem is – there’s nothing to fight or flee. Don’t worry though, there are things we can do about this.’

  • Explain how common anxiety in kids is.

    Anxiety in kids is common. About 1 in 8 kids have struggled with anxiety – so let them know that in their class, there’s a good chance that 3 or 4 other kids would know exactly what they’re going through because they’ve been through it before. Maybe they’re going through it right now.

  • Give it a name.

    ‘Now that you understand that your anxiety feelings come from the ‘heroic warrior’ part of your brain, let’s give it a name.’ Let your child pick the name and ask them what they think of when they picture it. This will help them to feel as though something else is the problem, not them. It also demystifies their anxiety. Rather than it being a nameless, faceless ‘thing’ that gets in their way, it’s something contained – with a name and a look. 

  • Now get them into position.

    ‘The problem with anxiety is that [whatever their ‘heroic warrior’ is called – for the moment, let’s say, ‘Zep’] Zep is calling all the shots but we know that you’re really the boss. Zep actually thinks it’s protecting you, so what you need to do is let it know that you’ve got this and that it can relax. When you get those anxious feelings, that means Zep is taking over and getting ready to keep you safe. It doesn’t think about it at all – it just jumps in and goes for it. What you need to do is to let it know that you’re okay. 

    The most powerful thing you can do to make yourself the boss of your brain again is breathe. It sounds so simple – and it is. Part of the reason you feel as you do is because your breathing has gone from strong and slow and deep to quick and shallow. That type of breathing changes the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. Once your breathing is under control, Zep will stop thinking he has to protect you and he’ll settle back down. Then, really quickly after that, you’ll stop feeling the way you do.’ 

  • And breathe.

    Breathe deeply and slowly. Hold your breath just for a second between breathing in and breathing out. Make sure the breath is going right down into your belly – not just into your chest. You can tell because your belly will be moving. Do this about 5 to 10 times.

    Practice before bed every day. Remember that Zep, the warrior part of your brain, has been protecting you for your entire life so it might take a little bit of practice to convince Zep to relax. But keep practicing and you’ll be really good at it in no time. You and that warrior part of your brain will be buddies – but with you in control.

    One way to practice is by putting a soft toy on your child’s belly when they lie down. If the toy is moving up and down, their breathing is perfect. 

  • Practice mindfulness.

    An abundance of scientific research has demonstrated the profound effects of mindfulness.  MRI studies have shown that practicing mindfulness increases the density of gray matter in the brain, providing relief and protection from stress, anxiety and depression. See here for more information.

    Mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated. Essentially, it’s being aware of the present moment, and there are plenty of fun ways introduce children to mindfulness.  

    Start by explaining that anxiety comes about because of worry about the future and what might happen. Sometimes these thoughts happen in the background – we don’t even know they’re there. Mindfulness helps you to have control over your brain so you can stop it from worrying about things it doesn’t need to. It trains your brain to stay in the here and now. The brain is like a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger it gets. 

    It sounds easy enough but minds quite like to wander so staying in the moment can take some practice. Here’s the how:

    1. Close your eyes and notice your breathing. How does the air feel as you draw it inside you? Notice the sensation of the air, or your belly rising and falling. Notice your heart beating. If your mind starts to wander, come back to this.
    2. Now, what can you hear? What can you feel outside of you and inside your body? If your mind starts to wander, focus on your breathing again. 

Remember that anxiety in kids is very treatable but it might take time. Explain to your child that his or her very clever and very protective brain might need some convincing that just because it thinks there’s trouble coming, doesn’t mean there is. Keep practising and they’ll get there. 


A Book for Kids About Anxiety …

‘Hey Warrior’ is a book for children to help them understand anxiety and to find their ‘brave’. It explains why anxiety feels the way it does, and it will teach them how they can ‘be the boss of their brain’ during anxiety, to feel calm. It’s not always enough to tell kids what to do – they need to understand why it works. Hey Warrior does this, giving explanations in a fun, simple, way that helps things make sense in a, ‘Oh so that’s how that works!’ kind of way, alongside gorgeous illustrations. (See here for the trailer.)

 


 

 

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836 Comments

Ellie Budden

How do you know if your child is suffering with anxiety? I’ve had it myself recently it’s a horrible feeling.

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Ellie Budden

Hi thanks for that it’s good to know what to look out for. My eldest boy is 9 and he tends to wake up really early like 4am sometimes and says he can’t sleep, he also gets very teary about things. He’s a very smart boy doing very well academically and is very sporty and popular and seems happy most of the time so it probably isn’t this. I just don’t joke why he can’t sleep properly. Thanks again.

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Dandi

Ellie, I was all the things you’re describing, and very anxious as a child! All that success is very stressful to maintain!!!

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Hanna

Hi Elle, I have
Very similar issues with my little boy. He is extremely clever, very sporty and uber competitive. He has been getting up very early, is easily tearfull, has started day dreaming a lot and has resently been complaining of stomachache when at school. Some American doctors have done some research resently to say competitive natured children are more prone to anxiety. I have enrolled my boy in to mindfulness childrens yoga class which I can attend with him and it is making a world of difference. X x

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Ellie

Hi ya thanks I’ll have to look into it. Sounds just like my boy he’s a bit of a perfectionist and gets annoyed when he does things wrong in school and at home bless him. I hope all goes well for your son and it helps him.

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shaunamom

I really appreciated a lot of what you’ve discussed in this article. Loved the way you described the amygdala.

But from a personal perspective, I have to say, it is disheartening to see the symptoms for anxiety that you list, mentioned in the way you list them. Because sadly, all those symptoms? They are all symptoms of physical ailments that children can have, many of which can also cause anxiety (nutritional deficiencies, celiac disease, and food allergies, as a few examples)

But when parents, and their doctors (unfortunately), focus on ‘anxiety causes physical symptoms,’ they often seem to lose sight of the fact that ‘physical problems can cause anxiety AND other physical symptoms.’ IMO, whenever a doctor claims that a child’s anxiety is causing physical symptoms, they really need to be confirming some of this with some physical tests.

This has personally affected our family. Anxiety caused by celiac disease was ignored in children in the family, even when they had physical symptoms (like stomach aches, headaches, clinginess). Some doctors refused to test children in the family for the disease because the children had anxiety, so their stomach pain MUST be caused by the anxiety and couldn’t possibly have a physical cause.

When we finally were able to get tested, we ended up with every person but one, in three generations, who had the disease, many of whom had been ignored because they had either anxiety or depression, so any physical symptom they had was obviously ’caused’ by the mental issue, as far as doctors were concerned.

I’m not denying that mental difficulties can cause physical symptoms. I just think it’s important for us parents to understand that anxiety existing in conjunction with physical symptoms is a correlation, NOT a causation. Our childrens’ doctors need prove causation, or at least make a very good case for it, before they dismiss any possible physical causes.

Because I am meeting more and more parents with children who have chronic pain and their doctors – quite often doing not a single test and only talking with the child – are diagnosing the cause as school anxiety. And these kids suffer for years before they finally get a true diagnosis for what was causing the pain.

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heysigmund

I’m sorry you’ve have the struggle you’ve had to find an appropriate diagnosis for the children in your family. This article is about anxiety and what anxiety does to your body. The symptoms outlined are all symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety CAUSES these physical symptoms – causation, not correlation – and this understanding is very important in being able to manage the symptoms. Anxiety triggers the fight or flight response without real cause and this initiates a physiological response. Managing the anxiety (and the fight or flight response) eases the physiological symptoms.

That’s not to say that anxiety is the only cause of these symptoms. This article is a discussion of ‘this is why you feel the way you do during an anxiety attack, and ways to manage that’ and was never intended to be a discussion of everything these symptoms can indicate. In trying to get to the bottom of the meaning of any symptoms, parents and doctors have to start somewhere and generally the best start is the one that’s the least invasive, which makes very good sense. A parent’s intuition is incredibly powerful and if something doesn’t feel right in relation to a diagnosis, it’s important to seek further advice. It’s really unfortunate that the doctors your family sought help from refused to test the children. I can hear your frustration and disappointment and I would certainly feel the same. Your feelings are very valid. There are of course many great doctors who would be more responsive to the concerns of parents than that and who would place a lot of stock in the wisdom of parents in relation to their own children. I’m pleased you were able to get to the bottom of what was causing the problems in your family.

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Maria Tisdall

hi
After reading and sharing your article on FB I had an epiphany. The root of so many of today’s problems are rooted in responses to anxiety and anxious feelings. I would like to develop a program that can be offered to students, parents and teachers through the PTA and school assemblies on the elementary school level that teaches what anxiety is and how to deal with it through simple yoga movements and meditation.
Would the author of this article be interested in discussing this with me? I think it is the root of bullying and it could make a huge difference in our and our kids lives

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Hanna

hi Maria,
I am chairman of the PTA at my child’s school and if you do set something up we would love to use your program

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Nina

Maria, I don’t yet have kids of my own, but I am a high-achieving adult who only a few years ago recognized the anxiety I’ve been coping with for the majority of my life. I also have a good friend who still struggles with anxiety and depression. She had a breakdown in college that ended up in hospitalization. I would love to be part of a bigger awareness campaign about anxiety in kids and teens, because that’s where it needs to be addressed. “The Chemistry of Calm” is a book that helped me immensely, as well as Eckart Tolle’s “The Power of Now.” Please let me know how I can help.

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Michael

I just wanted to stop in and say thank you! I am a primary grade teacher; I see this frequently. When I first read this article a few weeks ago, I knew it was GOLD! Today, I handled a panic-attack situation that has taken me hours in the past. Using your words, and the advice from your article, everything was over in 30 minutes! The child made a full recovery and was curious about his amygdala. THANK YOU!

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. This is awesome! You’ve taught him something that will hold him so well moving forward. I love hearing about people, like you, who use this information and make such a difference. You’re school is lucky to have you. Thank you so much for letting me know!

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summaya hassim

Thanks so much for all this enlightening information. I also find by telling the child that we all have a baby inside us n by lookin in the mirror into our eyes and saying baby sue go away n explain to the child that as adults we too have to do this as adults and that they not alone.hope it helps

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Hannah Masters

I have recently put my teenage daughter who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks on a natural liquid vitamin that has folate, iron as well as vitamin B…the supplements are sourced from natural sources and because it is liquid it is easily assimilated. I have seen an amazing difference in a matter of weeks.

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Ramona Jackson

can you please tell me the name of this liquid vitamin and where to get it?

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Trish

This is great info, reinforcing what I do with my 7yo daughter.. However I was particularly interested in the comment about competitiveness & anxiety. She always has to be first, perfect.. It is hard as I do want her to finish her work on time, win her race (who wouldn’t?!) but I would like to see enjoyment too!!
Will look into the ‘need to be first’ and anxiety link.

Thanks

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heysigmund

That competitive streak is such a tough one in relation to anxiety. They put so much pressure on themselves! There’s a lot of very highly regarded research that’s recognising the importance of praising effort over achievement. What this does is take the focus off the outcome and puts it more onto the work that’s been done to get there. It’s called a ‘growth mindset’ and nurturing a growth mindset changes the way people (not just kids) approach challenge, exams and many aspects of life. Many schools are now adopting a growth mindset culture. I’m a huge fan. I do it with my own kids and I can see the difference it makes. Here is a link to an article that talks more about it https://www.heysigmund.com/mindset-improve-academic-performance-2/ . Hope this helps.

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Sharon Moran

I had panic attacks for 2 yrs until I discovered for myself that my anxiety was ME. Once I understood how my body was reacting to stress then I learnt how to stop it in it’s tracts ( exactly as you have written). At the time it was all dreadful. I had to work, be a mother and a wife but somehow got through it without drugs..the biggest tip was to learn the art of breathing a longer breath out. In breath for 3 , out breath for 6 counts. As I did this my pulse slowed and muscles relaxed. It is a learned skill and needs practice and trust. Today I appreciate what anxiety taught me and now I help many children in my day to day work …anxiety in children , teens & adults is on the increase because we are not learning the skill to let go and to regulate what we see, do, ingest and not enough down time…life’s too precious and anxiety is our brain saying ‘ hello, I need a holiday from all this pressure….xxxxx

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Akeela

Thanks a ton! This indeed seems so acceptable from a teens point of view. Just wish I had used this a year ago with my son when he was going through this anxiety leading to
school refusal

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Natalie

I thank you for this. Over the last couple of years I have been struggling with anxiety. I have come to realise it has been simmering away all of my life, exploding at times and leaving me confused and at times embarrassed, even ashamed. I fell and hurt my back at work when 19 weeks pregnant with our third child, our daughter, nearly four years ago (my goodness, has it really been that long now?) when severe and frequent panic attacks began. I didn’t realise what was going on, and this in its self is hard enough, but I misread my own body’s responses and took it as anger. I changed from the calm and inspirational, endlessly patient early childhood educator, to a panic stricken mother that couldn’t handle any situation and shamefully yelled at her beloved children. When I realised what was happening to me I started the current journey I am on. One of self understanding and self repair. I have begun to read, that and listen, to others and their stories of anxiety. Some are just interesting stories, others resonate and I have a lightening bolt moment. This is the brightest that bolt has been yet. This story has me not only understanding myself so much better, but gives me the tools to repair the damage I feel I have inflicted on my three amazing children (6, 4 & 3) with by inability to teach them about their emotional responses, to recognise them and understand them.

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heysigmund

I’m so pleased this information has found its way into your hands. You sound like you are gaining a lot of wisdom and insight. I also want to say that when I read your comment, I thought to myself what a wonderful mum you sound like – so invested in making things better for your kids and you speak about them with such love. Parents are going to get things wrong – it’s in our job description. It also lets our kids know that it’s okay for them to make mistakes too which is such an important lesson. Keep doing what you’re doing. The insight you are gathering for yourself and for your kids will hold all of you in such a strong, loving place moving forward.

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Helen Newbould

This is a brilliant article. My son is 9 and has huge anxiety issues. He is autistic but high functioning which causes anxiety but he also suffers with anxiety on top of that. He is only just back at school after having not attended for around 3 months because of anxiety, he has regular panic attacks and will be physically sick when he is worried. Before he started junior school he was being sick every single day during the 6 week holiday period leading up to the start of term. The problem we have is that it seems so ingrained in him for his body to react this way, sometimes there is no build up and he can have a full on panic attack and be sick over the smallest of things. Although we have tried some of the techniques you have used before I’ve never read anything that sets it all out so clearly and that I know my son will be able to understand and appreciate. I will definitely be reading this through with him. Thank you.

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m so pleased this information has been a help to you and that you’re able to share it with your son. It sounds as though he’s had a tough time of it lately and that you’re doing an amazing job of supporting him through it. I hope this helps to bring him some comfort. Thanks for taking the time to make contact.

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Katrina

Great article thank you. We are expats and fly fairly frequently but our children have become terrified (so have I) of flying with the recent plane accidents etc. do you have any tips for flying anxiety and reassuring them that we are safe?
Many thanks

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heysigmund

If your kids are being scared by the recent crashes, that’s completely understandable. It’s very normal to overlay real life incidents onto your own personal experience. One way to counter this The key is to point out the differences (because they’re looking at the similarities) – different airline, different pilot, different route etc.

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Marija

Great article. Additionally, sometimes that butterfly feeling could be interpreted as excitement – like the feeling you have descending while riding a roller coaster or the feeling you have before your friends arrive at your birthday party. Changing the meaning of that feeling and reframing it can be powerful enough to overcome it.

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heysigmund

Absolutely. There’s a lot of research happening that’s finding how reframing stress and anxiety can change the experience of it. Well said!

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jennifer anderson

My daughter is 10. Beautiful, smart, popular and very well behaved in school. She is an emotional child and her worse anxiety attacks r the weather. We have tried 2 find what’s trigured this. Physically gets sick. Afraid she may give herself a heart attack she gets so worked up. She is currently on meds and therapy. Do u reccommend any at home things I could do at home?!? She also fears 2 challenge herself and gives up when things get hard.

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heysigmund

I’m sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling like this. Keep doing doing the strategies mentioned in the article. Explaining the physical basis is really important. The methods need to be practiced – if your daughter’s anxiety response is this strong, it’s not going to ease up overnight. They need to be practiced so they become automatic during an attack. As for how she responds to challenge, it sounds as though she has a fixed mindset. Whatever you can do to nurture a growth mindset will make a big difference. The research is very well respected. Here are a couple of articles that will talk you through how to do this, with links to resources that will also help. Again, it’s something that needs to be consistently talked about – the little chats you have on the way to school, while you’re tucking her in to bed, grabbing afternoon tea together. Here are the articles: https://www.heysigmund.com/the-proven-way-to-build-resilience/ and https://www.heysigmund.com/mindset-improve-academic-performance-2/ . Hope this helps.

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Ann

Hi. I have a soon to be 17 year old son in his final year of high school. From being the dux of his year last year he is now struggling to find his way…. not doing set school work then missing school/exams when he realises he hasn’t done the required work. He also has anger management issues when all this “hits home” at the last minute. I have tried the school counsellor which he sometimes says has been helpful & she advise that he has opened up alot. I have also tried an external counsellor but he has only been twice (when I take him) & missed other apts when he had to get himself there. From what I gather he hasn’t been honest with this counsellor. My sister has been a great help & he has opened up to her alot about being so confused & not knowing what to do & how to fix it. She has suggested that he may have to go on medication. To be honest, I have always thought this to be the absolute last resort & have never been keen on the idea of medication. What would they prescribe & would it be a short term solution to get him through the next few months? We have had a bit of a tough time in our lives…..divorce, moving interstate, financial worries etc but I have always been able to pull myself together & maybe expected my sons to be the same. Hope you can give some advice. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a huge year for your son. I have a son in his final year too so I understand. The best person to speak to about medication would be a doctor. There are a lot of different options. I agree it should be a last resort, but if he’s really struggling it might be an option. What does your son think? Does he think he needs medication? Or does he see this as a passing thing? It sounds as though your son has stress on stress at the moment and is feeling really overwhelmed. I expect he’s feeling like he’s made some decisions that he can’t fix, like missing exams – particularly if he’s coming from dux. Can the school help out with this by way of special consideration at all? It’s great that he’s talking to your sister. Talk to him about what he needs, let him know that nothing that’s happened matters and perhaps talk to a doctor about medication options, if you and he feel that’s an option. I know it feels overwhelming, probably for all of you at the moment, but your son will get through this. Anxiety is very treatable and in the context of his life at the moment, what he’s feeling is pretty understandable.

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KarenB

After having similar experiences, I wanted to tell you a couple of things I have learned that may help. First, the HS councilor can best help you if you take your son to the right professional who can give you a diagnosis. Then what your HS councilor can do (and quite well) is be the advocate for your son with his teachers. I spoke to councilors and teachers about the stress my daughter experienced from Jr. HS to HS and nothing changed. Once I had a diagnosis (OCD with anxiety) and spoke to the councilor, everything finally changed. The councilor spoke to the relevant teachers and they responded with incredible kindness. They extended deadlines, and in the cases of unwritten papers, they changed the format and let her do a test in school instead. I wanted you to know that this is how it works so you and he could get some help.

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Kaye

My daughter is 12 years old. Her problems begin somewhat last year with anxiety over of getting her homework finished before dance. She would cry, scream and kick.I had never seen her act like this. This year the anxiety is still in getting the homework done and with getting an A. She is a naturally talented dancer but has sabotaged herself with anxiety episodes before, during and after her solo dances. She has danced competitively for 5 years but this year is packed with stress and anxiety. Any suggestions on what can be done. I plan to take her to a therapist. .Happy to see an article about this.

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Hey Sigmund

She’s putting so much pressure on herself, isn’t she! It’s hard to watch as a parent – I really get it. I think a therapist is a good idea – they’ll be able to work through this with her and help her to look at things a different way so she puts less pressure on herself. In the meantime, there’s been quite a bit of research around how reframing anxiety into excitement can help with performance anxiety. The idea is that by calling it ‘anxiety’, there is a focus on things that can go wrong, but by saying ‘I’m excited’ (even if you don’t really believe it at first) you look at the opportunities. Here is an article that talks about it https://www.heysigmund.com/an-unexpected-way-to-deal-with-performance-anxiety/ I’ve been getting my daughter to do mindfulness every night and it’s made such a big difference. Anxiety is worrying about the future but with mindfulness, the focus is on bringing thoughts back to the present. Harvard has done some research into it so it has some credibility behind it. Here is a link talks about it https://www.heysigmund.com/mindfulness-what-how-why/ . The mind is just like any muscle to it might take a bit of practice but it will be worth it and it will be a skill that will be good for her moving forward as show grows. I hope this helps, and that your daughter is able to find some comfort soon.

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monko

Utterly brilliant post. I especially like the scientific explanation of why they are feeling anxiety. I have explained fight or flight to our son and how breathing helps to rebalance the chemicals.

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Susi Inglis

I would like to say thank you for this article. I am a staff nurse working with children under the age of 16 who struggle with mental health and learning disabilities and anxiety is seen on a daily basis.

The training we get for being able to help children manage these feeling is huge, however, articles like this always help to share strategies and give ideas!

I really am truly grateful to the author of this article and am going to show this to the rest of my team to see if we could draw treatment plans around some of these ideas.

I particularly felt that giving the feeling a name would massively help children who are too young to understand what anxiety is.

I would be really interested to discuss any further ideas people have as I feel this could benefit my professional skills.

Kind Regards,

Susi

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. It’s such important work you’re doing. Let’s put it out there and see what other ideas people have …

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Amanda

I have been told by 5 different doctors that I have panic attacks anxiety however do not have any of the afore mentioned symptoms please let me know if these are also symptoms, hyperventilating due to a tightness of my chest and my ribs hurting for days on end after going through an attack. My doctors put me in 3 different medications to take daily also when I feel the tightness of chest my back starts hurting inexplicably also the other way around, just a little curious if it really may be anxiety or if I keep getting doctors and hospitals that just want me to leave them alone.

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Hey Sigmund

It’s really hard to say. Anxiety can take many different shapes and doesn’t always look the same in everyone. What I would say though is that if something doesn’t feel right, keep going until you find a doctor you feel comfortable with. There’s a lot to be said about your own intuition.

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Ava J

Excellent article. I have been practicing mindfulness with my kids some time now. It has its own challenges. Children have a hard time visualizing the process. Books help. Our favorite one is “The Loving Kindness Tree”. It acknowledges the frustration and the worries (clouds passing by) and it brought a sense of gratefulness. But it is a journey. You learn as you go..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlyA80iWMGw

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Tim

Good article -But I feel like you need to discuss meds. Its great to say that Anxiety is a real issue for kids and caused by the body and chemicals and reaction. But we seem to have many people that think meds should not be used for kids period and sometimes -It is needed.
My daughter suffered from Anxiety for years – to the point where leaving the house was a major challenge. Attacks could last hours. The stuff you discuss is 100% right on -EXCEPT in serious cases, like my daughter – we couldnt get to any of that.
When she was in the middle of attack it is too overwhelming to really do any of the stuff discussed. The only way to do that is to practice when you are not having a attack, the issue however is when she wasn’t having a attack, she was scared to discuss and practice because simply thinking about it would trigger a attack.
Years of trying and talk therapy and her moms refusal to even consider meds under the false belief that kids should never need meds lead to pain full years. FINALLY – a low dose of meds were given and it gave enough “control” for her to then learn to do the other techniques and practice with out the fear of triggering the event.
My point is Anxiety has lots of causes -Some of those causes ARE medical / Physical. In those cases -meds are sometimes needed to give some sort of control before any other technique can work.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, when nothing else seems to be working there is a case for medication. It’s a big decision to make. These are strategies to try before making the decision to medicate or in conjunction with medication to develop the necessary skills for when medication is no longer needed.

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Alison

What if you can’t figure out the source of the anxiety? My 6 year old daughter has had diarrhea and complains of a stomachache everyday for at least a month. I can not figure out what the trigger is. It is not medical. I am sure it is anxiety and worry but she can’t verbalize the worry.

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Hey Sigmund

It’s common not to be able to verbalise the source of the worry. Part of the reason anxiety feels so bad is because it’s often not attached to anything in particular – it just comes on, like the faulty smoke alarm. It’s important to check with a doctor to rule out anything physical, and if you’ve already done this anxiety might also be an explanation. Does your daughter have any of the other symptoms that come with anxiety? Tight or shaky muscles, sweaty, shaky, restless, rapid breathing or short of breath, pins and needles or numbness, headaches, sleep problems, clingy, school resistance, withdrawal? Did it coincide with any changes? Even positive changes can cause stress. School? Teacher? Class? Moving house? Changing rooms? A new sibling? If she could change one thing about her day, what would it be? Does it happen on weekends as well? Don’t worry if there’s nothing you can identify – there might not be. The thing about anxiety is the fight or flight response can be triggered even when there is nothing to worry about. The techniques in the article will still help – there doesn’t need to be an identifiable cause. Teach her breathing skills and mindfulness. These are learned skills and the effect is long term, but worth it. If your daughter is still struggling, it might be worth thinking about counselling. Hope this helps.

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Linda

I work with kids and do medication management. Kids often have stomach problems when they are anxious. If possible, it would be good to have her see someone as the sooner therapy of any sort is started (even medication therapy) the quicker recovery comes about. Kids have a lot of pressure in society. School, many outside activities, and peer, not to mention they are quite sensitive to family changes. A good therapist can help work this out, and if it is a very young child, often play therapy is the best bet. Bottom line: early intervention = the most positive outcomes.

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L L

Just a side note: my daughter also had digestive issues, which is dismissed as school avoidance flu. After a while, though, we discovered she was suffering from food allergies, specifically milk, and eliminating these foods helped with the digestive issues. And because the histimine levels lowered, it also helped reduce other anxieties!

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Tracy

Speaking from personal experience, I suggest checking out food sensitivities and/or allergies. Common problems are dairy, wheat, gluten… for example

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Sue

My sympathies go out to your daughter… please also explore the possibility of allergies, i.e. to Wheat or Dairy, or both, or any other food related allergens,- as it can cause this problem.. Probiotics might also be worth a try ? With very best wishes, do hope you find the cure….

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Chantell

When I was younger I used to get stomach aches every single day. At school, after dinner, playing outside. Always and really bad stomach aches. Mom suggested that I try and stop having dairy and ever since ive only had stomach aches once in a blue moon when I accidently have something with dairy. Yogurt doesn’t bother me. Well sometimes greek yogurt does. But that definitely was what it was. Hope her stomach aches goes away.

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Shannon B

My daughter has seen GI since she was born. At age 9 we finally figured out why she had the runs. But too, kids change so much during these years. 1st it was corn then she out grew that, 2nd high fructose corn syrup and she grew out of that, now its dairy but its not consistant. So now anytime she chooses to try dairy she takes her enzymes n it really helps. She would get awful cramping. Sometimes if she has all if the above in one day it will trigger several days of the runs. But she is old enough now to choose if she wants to deal with the not so fun stuff later for the now satisfaction. My son who is a twin of my daughter has high anxiety, OCD and some mild Autistic behaviors. I can’t wait to try these methods. He n i have a great track record of communication and talking things thru. Took me 30 mins of talking n reassuring him to get him to play bowling. Noise was also a factor. Now he loves bowling! The more effort n time we give our little ones the stronger the bond n trust and the better they will function as an adult!?

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Christine

Chantell,
I can relate – my son hs had school avoidance anxiety and to a lesser extent, general anxiety. He is ten years old and just this fall was diagnosed as ADHD Inattentive. Crazy thing is, in the process of getting him diagnosed, *I* was also diagnosed with exactly the same thing! I have struggled my whole life with low level, constant anxiety. I now see that the ADHD is probably to blame in both of our cases. It makes so much sense – when you are constantly disorganized and behind the ball, letting people down and not fulfilling your potential, that creates anxiety! I feel so bad that it took me my ten years to recognize what my little man has been struggling with. (Not to mention my whole life of unfulfilled potential). I just want to shout out to the world – if your child has these vague symptoms and medical issues have been ruled out, please consider ADHD! You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls or super hyper to have it, so it can look like so many other things.
Now I move on to figuring out how to handle the ADHD in both of us. There’s always something, isn’t there? 🙂

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Elle

This was my son as well. He suffers from ADD, I suffer from Panic and Anxiery disorder. At first we thought he was suffering like I had as a child. It was hard for me to watch as I didn’t want my children to ever go through what I had. Eventually we started noticing behavioural changes and school getting worse. Most days I could barely get him to go. We took him to our family Dr and it was determined after several tests that it was innitentive ADD. He’s such a good boy and now that we have the tools including a low dose medication, his anxiety has gone down and he’s drastically turning around in school. I agree, parents make sure on all accounts what is going on. Take care!

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Tina

My daughter also has suffered with anxiety And now they also say she has add. We tried the breathing and other things the recommended but made it worse for her. I think medicine now is going to be the way to go I would love to know what medicines low dose that you started that I’ve helped and what side effects they have. I hope this is the the way to go . She is so sweet and I hate to see he struggle in school with this.

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Hey Sigmund

Tina, the dosage and side effects will be different for everyone and it might take a little bit of tweaking to get the right amount and the right medication for your daughter. Of course it’s always best to have the lowest effective dose but your doctor will work with your daughter on that. Some of the symptoms can look similar and it can be difficult to know which one is driving particular symptoms. When you get one under control, you might find the symptoms of the other start to ease, but your doctor will hopefully be able to guide you on this. Whatever you choose to do, if you can keep practicing the other non-medication techniques with your daughter that will help to strengthen her capacity to deal with her anxiety without medication. It’s so hard to see them struggling isn’t it. I hope she is able to find relief soon.

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Edith

Allison,How’s your daughter doing now? My 6yr old son having same symptoms and your daughter was. Doctors says he is fine.

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Alison

Hi
She is actually doing really well. Very few complaints of stomach aches. Recently I think her anxiety has been up a bit because she has been complaining of headaches now. I think a lot of it then was driven by the fact that I had just had a baby. He was 4 weeks early and she wasn’t exactly prepared. I went to the doctor and ended up going right to the hospital and he was born the next day. We obviously had been talking about it for months, but the suddenness of it surprised her. Also, I am a teacher at her school so our daily routine obviously changed since I stayed home with the baby. I think both of us were stressed and anxious!! She is doing much better. Thanks for all the comments and thoughts. Hope all works out with your son.

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Jeff

My 7 year old has been displaying the signs of anxiety. One day, after being home from school for a couple of days, my mother in law was watching him. She asked him to draw a few things. ( which he loves…not bragging but he is awesome. Lol) Drawing what was on his mind and then asking him what I meant. An afternoon later we learned that he was worried about the “what if’s.” what if I get to school and I feel sick? What if the school bus breaks down on the way to school? Etc, etc. This was a huge break through for my ex and I. A Starting point to have the conversation with him. They want to let us know, but they have to have the outlet. This worked for us. It’s worth a try. At the least the child spends time having fun and chatting with someone they love.

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Karen

I feel so pleased to have read your article, but also feel guilty that we haven’t looked further a field and found someone like you before. Your article made so much sense and was explained so well. Our 10 yr old son is an anxious soul. He worries on a Friday night coming out of school because he knows Saturday morning is swimming lesson time. He worries when we are at home and he can’t find me, when i am just at the washing line or putting bins out. He would never stay home with his older sister (12 yrs old) for even 5 mins, he has to come with me. He worries about playing team sports and having someone tackle him or getting laughed at when he gets it wrong. He is so self conscious. He gets angry with us and his friends easily. He finds it hard to make friends and gets teased and gets called dumb or weird. But he is a beautiful, caring, thoughtful, gentle, intelligent boy. Our paediatrician convinced us that a low dose Ritalin might help, along side counselling, telling us that if indeed he is ADHD the Ritalin would have an instant affect. We have not noticed any difference in him but his teachers really have and his concentration is so much better and therefore his work is. I think he is more anxious if anything. It doesn’t sit right with us to have him on medication. What you have said makes me feel that it may be something we as his parents can help him with and not have to take him to doctors which just make him feel as if there is something wrong with him and that he is ‘different’.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though your beautiful little man is experiencing what so many other children experience in terms of anxiety. If only they knew they weren’t alone and how many other people – adults and kids – are struggling with it too. You can make such a difference for him though – don’t underestimate that. Kids can do amazing things when they’re given the right information and guidance and you have so much capacity to empower him in that way. I love how open you are to doing that. There will come a point where he emerges with wisdom and insight that will hold him so well in his life, though I understand how difficult it is for him and for you in the meantime. Start building him up with the skills and knowledge in the article, and let him know that there are so many other kids that are struggling the way he is. There are other articles that might help too under ‘Being Human’ in the menu and click on ‘Anxiety’. I completely understand your un-ease with having him on medication, and though a doctor will still need to supervise medication or any changes made to that, if you want support to strengthen your son with the skills he needs to fly, a counsellor will be able to help with that. Don’t underestimate the huge difference you can make though. I hope your son is able to find comfort and strength moving forward – he’s very lucky to have you on his team.

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Karen

Please know that you are starting on your journey of helping your child earlier than a lot of us. The important thing is that you have started. My comments are in addition to the excellent and helpful information here.
Please find a licensed psychiatrist or nurse practitioner who specializes in anxiety disorders. They can diagnose and prescribe the right medication to help your son. A Pediatrician is limited in that regard.
They can be helpful in finding a therapist too who will not only help him but help you help him.
With the help my daughter has gotten she can be who she really is and find out about what she is capable of doing. Though there were times early on when I couldn’t see it happening, we took my daughter to college for her first year, last week. I can’t tell you how incredible it was when we hugged and I looked at her and saw that she had tears in her eyes too and I said, “We have been through so much these last few years”, and she looked me in the eye and said “Thank you mom.”

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Karen

Thank you for taking the time to reply. It helps so much to know that many other families are going through similar experiences and so interesting to hear their stories and what has worked for them. We all just want the best for our children, it breaks my heart to see our little man struggle with what most people take for granted. But your articles have been so uplifting. It brought a tear to my eye thinking of you dropping off your daughter at college, how wonderful. Thank you so much again. K

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Karen

Thank you so much for replying so quickly. I can’t tell you how much this helps and how encouraging it is to know its ‘normal’ (what ever normal is) and so common. I have no doubt that the world holds great things for our little man. We just want to encourage him and give him the tools to deal with this and understand why he feels the way he does and what he can do about it. This is the first time it has been explained so beautifully and logically, which he will love because he is a very logical boy, so if he understands it, it won’t seem so scary and bad and he won’t feel different. I look forward to reading and learning more, heart felt thanks, K

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Paige

Hi Karen, I wonder if you’re familiar with the concept of ‘Highly Sensitive Persons’ as theorised by Dr Elaine Aron? I discovered this recently and whilst still in development stages it seems to explain so much of the high sensitivity and consequent anxiety I’ve experienced much of my life. My daughter sounds very similar to your son, and I’m looking into this in terms of how I support her.

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Ramona Jackson

This is so true. That’s why the meds are out there. My son had GAD and runs in the family so I totally understand this. It’s a shame that abusers have ruined it for the people that really need it cause now my sons Dr is always hesitant to give it to him or change it to a kind that would help better.

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C. Reed

I totally agree on what you added here. I also think that some of the details about the body and how everything works is too much information for a child at any age and can in some cases cause anxiety just thinking about all the processes that can go haywire. I also know that the basis of anxiety is fear. The human emotion of fear comes into play and triggers the anxiety. Discussions on emotions are crucial.

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Hey Sigmund

Depending on the age of your child, the information in the article can be modified to suit their level of understanding, but it’s critical never to underestimate the capacity of children to use and understand the information we give them. They can do amazing things with the right information. In my own experience, children from about 8 can start to understand this concept and use the information. It also isn’t a conversation that has to happen all at once.

The whole point of the article is the normalisation of the response. Things AREN’T going haywire. It feels like that, which is why anxiety can feel so frightening, but what is actually happening is a normal physiological response to threat and fear. There is absolutely no suggestion that emotions shouldn’t be talked about. In fact, the article is explaining how emotions work in order to empower children to respond effectively to situations, rather than feeling as though the emotion can come at any time and there’s nothing they can do about it.

The response from the amygdala is a response to fear – again, that’s the whole point. The thing about anxiety is that the body responds as though there’s a threat, even when there’s nothing threatening there. Fear is an emotional response and a physiological response – which is why anxiety feels physical – racing heart, butterflies, sick, headache etc. By understanding the underlying physical processes to the fight or flight response (which is the body’s response to threat or fear), children can have more power over their response. One of the awful things about anxiety is that it can be unpredictable and the physical feeling can be really frightening – for adults as well as for children. Eventually, this can lead to anxiety about the anxiety, so it becomes a fear of the physical response that comes with a fight or flight response being triggered. Explaining the symptoms as a normal physiological response, and not as something gone ‘haywire’, can normalise this and work to turn around the ‘anxiety about the anxiety’. The problem is that trigger in the brain that initiates the fight or flight response is super sensitive to threat. It’s not broken and it hasn’t gone haywire. Understanding this, as well as how it works can be really powerful in managing the response more effectively. Having said this, you know your child better than anyone and it’s for you to decide what will or won’t work for them. I hope this clarifies things for you.

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K

I understand what you are saying but i feel my childs anxieties are a little hard for me to deal with because she is going thru puberty and she is having random sexual thoughts that disturb and distress her. Worried that they are and eill become real. They certainly arent real. She mentally undresses people when she has hormonal surges and has what she calls grosse thought. Is scared she will accidently bang into someone or vice versa. Can’t bear to be near men.
She has lived thru dome horrific traumas and serious illnessess.
She has never been abused in anyway but has been very ill with multiple operations.what can I do?

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds like your daughter has been through a tough time, and would really benefit from counselling to help strengthen her to deal with the things she has been through. And yes, puberty does have a way of heightening anxiety. At the moment, your daughter might be feeling quite alone with her experience, which will make everything feel worse. There are so many people who struggle with this – if only she knew.

One of the reasons her thoughts are sexual is likely to be because of the big changes in the brain that happen during adolescence. Her brain is changing now like never before and there will be things that happen for her that feel really weird, and then they’ll settle. In relation to her thoughts, the more she tries to not think about things, the more she will be likely to think them. It’s like telling yourself all day not to think about pink elephants – the more you tell yourself not to think about them, the more you’ll think about them. A counsellor would help her to settle her thoughts. Part of this involves accepting them and letting them be, so they can go.

If counselling is difficult to access, try encouraging her to talk about her to journal about her thoughts. Let her know that there’s nothing wrong with what she’s thinking, even though it feels like that for her because it’s so unusual for her. Let her know her thoughts won’t always be there, it’s just that her brain is going through a massive growth spurt, as is her hormonal system. It happens to everyone during adolescence, but it plays out differently for different people. This is how it’s playing out for her.

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K

She has been referred to Child Mental Heath services for counselling. Shes kept away from young kids as they jump all over her and invade her space yet her hormones continue to dusturb her.
She named the warrior and with that and her worry dolls she has been relatively calm. She just went out biking out front with a friend 2 years younger but was apprehensive. I said just do grown up things. No horseplay, and stay outside out front. She cant hide in the house with me all day.
Funny, all her past is coming up. Innocent childhood things. Yes i agree she needs help to let go. I tell her its history, in the past, and she knows that but when a hormonal surge happens all best laid plans fall away. I can hear her laughing outside. Nice. This will help me too. I take flight in a fight.
Support services just sent her a card saying ” Change is a part if life
Everything goes Away
Especially the things you dont like
And… just a little card to show we are thinking of you and we love you…”
It bought tears to my eyes as did your reply…. to know there is someone listening and ready to help.
THANKS :+)

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MRW

My 12 yr old son initially started showing signs of OCD with a strong fear of getting sick/vomiting. The psychologist suggested we take him to the psychiatrist for meds as his case was severe. They started him on the lowest dose of a SSRI with Xanax as needed. He had his first full blown panic attack WITH the meds!! This then started the spiral into more panic attacks which led to fear of leaving the house for fear of friends seeing him. He lost 10# in a matter of a month off his already thin body. Then, during the second week of the meds, my son came into my room crying and pleaded for me to get a gun and shoot him because he didn’t know what was going on with his brain/body and he couldn’t take it. This is a child that has a huge group of friends, is very athletic and smart. Where was all of this coming from??? After discussing with the psychiatrist, we were told “yes, there are some side effects, but we have to keep on to get the meds into his system”. REALLY?? Asking me to kill him is not an OK side effect!!! Found another MD who put him on another SSRI and he was 1000% worse!!! I fired both psychiatrist. We stopped the meds after trying for 2 months. We started NEUROFEEDBACK. It was nothing short of amazing!! My son had been homebound for 4 months – stopped going to school, no sports, no association with friends, nothing!!!! After 5 sessions, of neurofeedback, he was back at school 3 classes/day and by the 8th session, he was back to school full time. He completed the school year, got caught up with all the missed work, played in the last game of the season with his basketball team. I was told by both psychiatrist and 2 psychologists that neurofeedback was just an expensive form of playing brain games. Well, it is expensive and maybe it is just playing brain games, but I have my son back. I could have continued to give him meds day after day and do God knows what to his brain with the chemicals and who knows if he would have even been here today based on how he actually worsened while on the meds.

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you so much for sharing this! Seeing the changes in your son from the medication must have been frightening for you and I’m sorry you didn’t receive more support for your concerns, which sound as though they were very valid. There is so much we don’t know in psychology and things that aren’t properly understood will too often be met with scepticism and discounted in favor of more researched, though not neccessarily more effective approaches. It’s about whatever works and honestly, I have so much faith in a parent’s intuition. So much credit to you for listening to yours.

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Hey Sigmund

Absolutely! Exercise – it’s the natural end to the fight or flight so there’s a really good reason that what you do works. It’s great that you’ve found something that works!

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RW

Tim,
You are correct that in times of severe anxiety/panic it seems as if nothing will work. As a parent of a child with severe anxiety, I completely understand. My 12 yr old son did not leave the house for 4 months, and I mean he DID NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE FOR ANYTHING! We tried the SSRI’s at the onset of the anxiety, before the full blown panic attacks started. The meds are what precipitated his panic attacks, for which he was then given anti-anxiety meds to help with the multiple panic attacks each day. Then, he became suicidal. We took him off the meds and within a few days he started having less panic attacks. Then we found a PhD Psychologist that does neurofeedback. He came to our house 2days/wk and after 2 weeks of neurofeedback, our son was back at school 4 hours/day and after 8 session, he was back full time and has never looked back. So, in some cases, and even severe cases, meds ARE NOT THE ANSWER!! There are natural remedies to teach the brain how to respond. I hope the best for you and your child.

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Michael

Excellent article, I learnt a lot about about how anxiety occurs. Can you please tell me how this relates to the type of anxiety one experiences when going through a relationship breakdown? Whether it’s through teenage or adult years. Does the same processes apply? As you say “The part of the brain that needs to protect you”. Is it the same process that happens that gives you that awful feeling inside? Does it relate to the same anxiety process as your analogy describes, like running away from a dog? Sorry if the questions seems a bit odd, but It’s very interesting to understand. Thanks

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Hey Sigmund

It’s a really good question. Anxiety is always the same physiological response, whether it’s in kids or adults. If you’re going through a relationship breakdown, there are other physiological things going on. Here is an article that might shed some light: https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/ . Our bodies have amazing ways of processing things and adapting to things and it can really help to understand exactly what’s going on. I hope this helps. (And I love questions – no such thing as an odd one here!)

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