How to Help Kids Cope With Situational Anxiety
Anxiety is a way we humans have evolved to protect ourselves.
In threatening situations, our brains release a string of responses that result in rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, hyperventilating, and intense fear – all geared to prepare us for danger. This is the foundation for appropriate and adaptive anxiety. But when this kind of “danger” response happens enough to significantly interfere with a child or teen’s social, academic, or recreational functioning, we call it a psychiatric disorder. Still, there are examples of when anxiety is not listed as an official disorder but can be disruptive for everyday life…
This is No Time to Beat Yourself Up: How to Build Self-Compassion.
Self compassion is a crucial skill for everyone, but especially parents. Life offers daily opportunities for us to screw up and fill the parent-guilt vault. Spill water. Miss a deadline. Yell at your kid. And when you do, what should your internal dialogue sound like?
“What an idiot, you idiot.”
“Shit happens. I’ll do better the next time.”
When put like this, the option for self-compassion (uh, B) should win in a landslide. It’s supportive and calming. “It puts you in the mind state to cope with stressful events,” says Kristin Neff, associate professor of educational psychology at University of Texas at Austin, co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, and one of the leading experts in self-compassion.
But, in the moment, this isn’t that easy. People are hard on themselves and A is often a popular choice. Self-criticism serves a purpose, sure. But self-compassion should, nine times out of ten, be the default option. We need to be easier on ourselves. If not, we create a breeding ground for shame, self-hatred, and other such emotions. The desire to be better is great. But many of us are going about it the wrong way. We become our own worst enemies…