When struggling with anxiety or insecurity, it’s easy to feel powerless. That’s where finding ways to highlight mastery is healing. When kids are struggling, it can be natural for parents to want to fix it or save them. But that reinforces that they are powerless to solve their own problems. Opportunities to face problems (no matter how small) and deal with them are empowering.
In play therapy this happens in so many simple yet powerful ways. The child wants a toy that’s a little bit out of their reach? “Great! You can play with anything in this room. You can’t reach it? Why don’t you try again? You want my help but I think you can do it all by yourself. Oh man, that’s a tricky bin! But look, you got it down all by yourself. You didn’t need my help after all.”
Confidence and resilience can be instilled in little moments where a child learns their own strength. Practice not jumping in to save them on the little things, and then...
If you’re like me, deep breathing isn’t always as simple and effective as it sounds. When feeling anxious, I have had the tendency to over-think and over-stress (surprise!) just how to breathe. “Is it in through my mouth? Or nose? Do I hold it? I feel like I’m gonna pass out!” Can you relate?
Anxious feelings can be closely tied to not getting enough oxygen due to habitually taking short, shallow breaths. Therefore, simply pausing and taking a long, deep breath is a powerful way to calm your nervous system and move through feelings of stress and anxiety. I like to describe taking a deep breath as using a remote control on the brain-- helping it quickly change the channel from one stressed out show to a calmer, more relaxed show. A deep breath can calm the nervous system (and therefore the thoughts and emotions) that effectively.
If getting worked up and needing a way to calm down is a common grown-up problem, no wonder kids...
It's no joke that babies don't come with instruction manuals. And it's not just babies that are hard to figure out but also toddlers, tweens, and teenagers! Do you ever feel like you're just winging it? You are not alone! My husband and I were laughing yesterday about how nothing is more humbling than parenting!
Next time you find yourself at a loss of how to handle a challenging situation, rather than beat yourself up or criticize your child, let it signal area to learn new parenting skills. No shame about it. Remember, babies don't come with instruction manuals. It is baloney to believe that all parenting is natural.
A simple skill to start with? Recognizing when things aren't working and learning something new. It can be as simple as reading articles on the topic and trying a new response. And don't be afraid to ask for help-- asking for parenting support is a powerful skill that can help the entire family!