You Could be Making your Kids Anxious…and this is Why
Lately anxiety has become a buzzword. It is used in varied situations and people place the term “anxiety disorder” on anyone who shows a symptom of “nervousness”. Many know that I currently do child and youth therapy in my practice and is an area that I absolutely love. I believe children are the pathways into tomorrow and we need to build them up… but one thing I feel like I do fight against is the notion that because a child feels a healthy amount of nervousness before a test, that they have a clinical type of ANXIETY.
Even in the DSM 5 (the diagnostic manual for all disorders related to mental health) a diagnosis of a general anxiety disorder (not a specified one) means that a person must have excessive worry for at least six months and that the worry must be challenging to control as well as accompanied by some physical symptoms (3 at least, to be precise).
This is why I feel hesitant to label children who to me, are experiencing a healthy level of nervousness…as being anxiety disordered. Infact, below a certain age I will only refer to this as worry in front of the child and work on externalizing the worry as a 3rd person to help it make more sense for children e.g: your worried talk, worry dragon, worried person etc.
When we make buzzwords and then function around the label of disorder…it is my view that it feeds into making our children feel “less than” and they begin to believe that this “disorder” is intact, their destiny. But when we talk about anxiety symptoms as worry that tries to take over….and give kids tools for responding to their “worried talk” we empower them to cope with anxious symptoms and avoid being overwhelmed with anxiety disorders/ maladaptive coping in their later years.
If we explain to children, and understand ourselves, that every human being experiences the “adrenaline” response to a feeling of threat…and that these symptoms, while uncomfortable, are also normal….we give them great power by normalizing what they are going through. Life is not always comfortable and learning to cope with this now creates resilient children. If we as adults are not aware of our own nervous energy and our own anxiety…we can pass this onto kids. If we don’t have control of our own anxiety responses…we cannot expect our children or the children we encounter to be calm and in control of their own responses.
If you want more info about anxiety and tools to use in your own life and ways to help kids and others you know get a handle on anxiety… don’t forget to download my free guide you can sign up for it here: www.jordanburness.com/mindfulpathways