Whilst watching Sunrise today on television I listened to a discussion that caused great concern in me. The conversation was about anxiety and our children. According to recent stats 1 in 10 children aged between 6 and 11 are suffering from anxiety and only 18% of children are being treated. These statistics are alarming to me and being a mother, grandmother and an educator I really want to address this.
Anxiety seems to be the latest disease, whereby so many are suffering from it. I understand that it is real and something that people are dealing with on a daily basis. I’m ever so grateful that we have incredible medical professionals who help people walk through what can be crippling experiences or existences. I do, however, want to address the subject of anxiety and children and my hope is I am able to provide some workable solutions to help all parents be on the front foot with our children. I want to help you create healthy, calming and safe spaces for your kids so that they feel secure and confident.
To be clear, anxiety is described as:
- Anxiety is a multi-system response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient’s personal history and memory, and the social situation. As far as we know, anxiety is a uniquely human experience. Other animals clearly know fear, but human anxiety involves an ability, to use memory and imagination to move backward and forward in time, that animals do not appear to have. The anxiety that occurs in posttraumatic syndromes indicates that human memory is a much more complicated mental function than animal memory. Moreover, a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety.
Today, I’m going to give you two ways to help build security into your homes which allows you the opportunity to either address or combat anxiety. These two points are critical and may seem somewhat simplistic yet the power they release is life-changing.
1) Create a specific ‘down time’ in your home:
Find a time that works with your family schedule, this could be bed time or early mornings or an after dinner walk on the beach. Turn off all external noise (ie: phones, computers, TV’s, etc) and allow space for conversation to flow. Ask questions about they day and move towards the bigger questions of ‘is there anything bothering you?’ or ‘is there anything you don’t understand that you’d like to ask mummy/daddy?’ or even, ‘is there anything you’ve seen or heard lately that you don’t understand?’
Through questions like these children will see the open door and will usually take the opportunity to walk through. Of course it will take more time with older children and your tactics maybe different, perhaps a hot chocolate at a cafe or whilst getting the surf boards waxed. Whatever the case, this is a key element in creating safe places for dialogue and this process is a marathon, not a sprint. Meaning, this is a life-long endeavour and something you can’t rush, you want to create this space so you can carry it throughout their lives.
2) Make home fun:
Have fun at home. Be silly. Dance, sing even a food fight or a full on family water fight. Make sure you have time for the zany and silly to happen. Laughter, as we know, is said to be one of the best medicines and it truly is. Make life enjoyable and let your home be filled with laughter. Laughter alone releases chemicals that are healing and they travel through our body ministering life into spaces that need it.
If you have a child who is anxious, please talk to one of our teachers or myself. We want to help you and most of all, we want to see your child thriving in every sphere and aspect of life.