Do you have anxious children? an anxious child or toddler? It is hard work isn't it!
I have a son who can be insanely anxious at times. I never know when that little 'mr anxiety' is going to pop up, and out he comes from nowhere... to put a screeching halt on our days activities (or bedtime!). If we don't tend to that nasty visitors needs in the 'right' way, everything exacerbates and we end up with a panic attack on our hands.
9 year olds and their panic attacks are painful to watch and be involved in. I would wish this upon NO-ONE.
Of course, adults suffer the same. That cloud of anxiety comes in to fill your head with worry and doubt and before you know it you have played out an entire future scene, with dramatic results...only to snap yourself out of it for a moment and realise that event you dreamed up and worried about, hasn't even taken place, and maybe never will...people might say "don't worry about it, you silly thing".
Doesn't stop the anxiety thought does it? Anxiety is such hard work!
I thought it was a good time to bring up the relevance of making sure that we do not offload our anxieties onto our already anxious kids. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that no one ever intentionally shares there anxious thoughts onto their children on purpose (why would you possibly? Your already anxious enough about raising an amazing child!) BUT, sometimes unintentionally your worries can easily land in the kids heads!
We are all guilty of it e.g Little Ted is climbing a tree and we gasp as we notice how high he is then exclaim "oh gosh, don't fall and crack your head open, I don't want to spend a week or more in hospital!"
Do you think Ted wants to spend the week in hospital with an open wound on his head? No of course he doesn't, and he doesn't plan to fall out of the tree. But, yes he may fall out of the tree - as people do often fall. However, more times than not, he will be fine, and by bringing up a horrible alternative AND announcing it - well this may cause an already anxious Ted to stop climbing trees altogether because he has now taken on board your anxieties about hurting himself...and ending up in hospital!
The last thing we actually want is for Ted to stop climbing trees, as this is a wonderful way for his brain to make correct connections and aid in his learning, strength, balance and life abilities!
Another example is when children are eating and we say something like "now don't choke on those sausages". Well, of course the kids aren't planning to choke on the sausages. Again, if they already have an anxious mindset they may reply and say something like "if I choke, I'll die, I'm not going to eat these sausages and I don't really want to eat any food now" OR they will just spend a long time worrying about eating many things, as you have instilled your own anxieties about choking into them.
Instead of listing a million examples, I think you follow my gist. The aim of this blog is to remind us anxious and stressed beautiful souls to try to 'catch' ourselves, BEFORE any words, or anxious GASPS come out. If a child is in a tree or climbing something (as my youngest does most days and it eats me alive sometimes!) you could try comments like:
- "Great climbing so far, it's great to see you holding on so tight"
- "I love how you are concentrating so hard on where to put your feet and hands"
- "Looks like you are pretending to be Jack from the movie we watched, and you are testing each branch is strong enough for you just like he did. Nice one!"
- When there are lots of other children climbing the jungle gym with you, remember to be aware of them, and their choices as well.
Much like the choking - go ahead and chop those sausages diagonally for them, cut the steak into small pieces, and pre-eliminate the choking hazard as much as you can, but when they children/toddlers are eating, how about using some of these:
- "I love it how you are chewing your food up so well, your tummy likes it better that way too (this is true, the digestive system starts with the teeth chewing everything into smaller sizes!)"
- "Remember to eat your food slowly, it's not a race, enjoy it and taste it as you chew it."
- And then just simple options, like making sure you are there with them as they eat so that if something does go wrong you can assist - but they don't need to know that's why you are there!
These are just some really basic examples, and as our children get older those worries and concerns become huge. Of course you should share your worry about them riding in cars, drinking, drugs, sex etc and there is a place here for you to let them know your concerns. Tell them what the outcomes may be if something does go wrong in these scenarios! Yes, educate them, by all means. However, maybe leave the marriage worries, the financial anxiety, and the issues that they don't actually get to make decisions on, out of the picture. Don't add more 'worry' to their heads, when they can't actually act upon the situation at hand.
This is all just food for thought, as I was out running the other day this subject popped into my mind, I could go on for days (but it's a blog, and that would be boring!) but hopefully this remind you to keep your own worries away from your children. They are like sponges and will absorb it all, and anxious children are hard work enough as it is (bless their gorgeous personalities) but they certainly don't need any more worries unintentionally plonked into their wee heads.
You never know, it might help you as well, to stop sharing all of those concerns, and to be more present and enjoy the moment. In fact, I know it will help!...maybe I'll preach about meditation next week (wink, wink)
If you do have any comments on the subject please don't be afraid to leave one. We can all help each other out with ideas and examples. No one knows everything, and there is always another opinion and idea to hear!
To all the parents, and guardians out there - keep going team, you're doing awesome!
Go forth and conquer, dear friends x