This question was recently posed on a social media forum.
Like an automaton, I coughed up five reasons in under of 10 seconds about why children experience anxiety.
Here’s what I said:
- Too much screen stimulation
- Too many adult issues on their plates
- External expectations from parents/teachers without being given a chance to enjoy life without having to perform
- No opportunities to open up to a non-judgmental person about how they’re feeling and that it’s normal and okay
- Unconscious parenting
While I think these are all valid reasons, the 2nd of 25 responses on the forum stood out:
“I believe it’s because parent anxiety is at an all time high.”
BOOM. My list could all be embodied into that one statement.
So this begs the question: What is causing adult (not just parent) anxiety, and what can we do about it?
Don’t you want to know? I do. But when I went back to the original posted question, I saw I’d missed the last sentence, “What are some tips you have to help other parents and their children?”
The first solution revealed itself:
Start Focusing on Solutions
Something called “Negativity Bias” is built in for survival – anticipating the worst to prepare for the best. But when we recognize it (like pinpointing five problems in less than 10 seconds), that’s the key that it’s time to jump to solutions…and sit there.
Pointing fingers might offer some relief, but then it’s time to get serious about our own personal responsibility.
Do What Kids Do
Before kids are conditioned to get into this “adult” game, they play another game called “free”.
Drop-off and pick-up at my son’s preschool can reveal what I mean:
“HEY JAKE’S MOM!” (hugging abounds) “I’M FOUR!” (frantic waving ensues) “MY SHOES LIGHT UP!” (dancing and jumping occur) “I GOT A HAIRCUT!” (smile from ear-to-ear) “YOU’RE NICE!” (hugging abounds more)
How much time do you spend looking at the world through the eyes of your inner child?
But I have bills to pay…and I have a marriage to deal with…and people at work to make happy…
At what point did stuff or status became so important?
Perhaps anxiety occurs when children begin to notice adults in their world with their own.
Making any kind of change for the generation to come doesn’t just depend on pointing out all the problems, it involves becoming part of the solution.
What tips do you have for adults experiencing anxiety?
How do you see yourself affecting the little people around you?
What solution would you be willing to begin exploring today?
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