Tips To Calm An Anxious Child

” Imagine you are driving in the car. You look in the rearview mirror and see your child trying to shrink into her seat.

 

“What’s wrong?” you ask.

 

“I don’t want to go to the birthday party.”

 

“But you’ve been excited all week. There will be cake and games and a bounce house. You love all of those things,” you try to reason.

 

“But I can’t go. There will be lots of people there I don’t know. No one will play with me. My tummy hurts.”

 

Sound familiar? As a parent of an anxious child, you might regularly find yourself in situations where no matter what you try, what effort you make, what compassion you offer, or what love you exude, nothing seems to help quash the worry that is affecting your little one’s everyday interactions.

 

In my work with anxious children, I have found it tremendously beneficial for both parents and kids to have a toolkit full of coping skills from which to choose. As you know, every child is different and some of the tools described below will resonate more than others. When you pick one to work with, please try it at least two to three times before making a judgment on whether it suits your child and family.

Becoming the Parent of a Trans Child

Learning the ins-and-outs of parenting a transgender child is made easier by the recent outpouring of stories, suggestions, and advice from families all over the world who are making the journey with their loved ones. This article gives us a beautiful glimpse into the lives of one family.

“……Then one day “Kendra” told them that “she” was gay. Not many months after that, “she” asked to be called “Kasey” which would eventually become Ashur. From there it progressed to cutting. It became so bad that they took “her” to the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

While there, they suggested that Ken and his family sweep Ashur’s room for anything unusual.

What they found was a suicide note.

This is the moment they learned that their son was Transgender.

They confronted Ashur and learned that he had indeed already attempted his plan weeks ago and it had failed. The note made clear that if Ashur couldn’t be who he felt inside, there was no point in living.

Take heed of that. When a person is making it known that they wish to take their own life, they are asking for help. When they say nothing, they’ve given up hope.”

 

Read the whole article here.

Sex Workers Say “Stay in Your Lane”

Emily Shire brings us an inside look into the current trend of rich, white celebrities preaching about a vocation and work environment they do not have personal experience with. Did they somehow become experts by virtue of having money and time on their hands?

“Everybody thinks they’re helping us. They never stop to talk to us,” DiAngelo says, choking back tears, “They just want to make it disappear.”

While she believes the celebrities opposing Amnesty International “probably have good intentions,” they’re far too quick to pat themselves on the back.

“They go home at night thinking they did something good and we’re cleaning up the bloodshed. We’re the ones trying to keep ourselves alive.”

Read the whole article here.

I Might Have Tears

Melissa Atkins Wardy, with permission from her son Ben, writes empathetically about his social anxiety and the kind of adjustments she has made to accommodate and honor those times Ben “might have some tears”.

“My kids freeze. They have panic attacks. They drop out of first grade in favor of homeschooling. They can walk up to a group of new kids at the park to make friends and start a game of play, but they cry over things that seem really little or insignificant and I don’t get it. I’m more like a Golden Retriever: everything’s a party and everyone is my best friend. Ben makes me pause, reframe, and see situations the way his little heart see them.”

Uninterested in making Ben fit her own mold of life, but equally understanding of her responsibility to raise him to look after himself, Wardy demonstrates the ways children can learn from their guardians how to develop their own agency and self expression, on their own terms, without being stuffed into a box of confining expectations arbitrarily determined by gender.

Read this beautiful story here.

Get Grounded

Today I thought I would teach you about grounding exercises, which are a relaxation technique often used to help manage anxiety, fear, and trauma responses. It’s a process that’s easy to learn, and it’s something you can do anytime, anywhere.

If you’d like to try this exercise, sit comfortably in your chair or on the couch. Each of these steps should last for about 5 deep breaths.

1. First, start by breathing all the way into your belly. Just notice how the breath feels – is the air cool or warm? Is there an odor?  It doesn’t really matter, just notice whatever it’s like. (5 breaths)

2. When you’re breathing steadily, I want you to notice your feet. How do they feel? Are your ankles or knees crossed? Pay attention to the weight of your feet; notice which parts of your feet and ankles are touching shoes, socks, carpet, the chair….now allow your feet to feel heavy. (5 breaths)

3. Move your attention up to your legs and knees. Are the backs of your knees touching anything? What do your thighs and calves feel like? Are they pressing into the chair or couch? Again, you’re just noticing. Let your legs be heavy. (5 breaths)

4. Notice your hips and pelvis. If you’re sitting up, notice which parts of your body are touching the seat. Are you sitting evenly? Still taking deep breaths, let your hips become heavy. (5 breaths)

5. Now your back and shoulders… pay attention to how those feel. Do you notice any tension? How do your clothes feel? Are your shoulders hunched? Each time you breath out, let your shoulders sag a little more. Roll your head a little to notice your shoulders. Let your shoulders become heavy. (5 breaths)

6. Pay attention to your arms and hands. Are your hands linked, or your arms crossed? It doesn’t matter, just notice how they are. What parts of your hands and arms are touching fabric, furniture, technology? Notice your wrists, notice each finger. Let your hands be heavy. Let your arms be heavy. (5 breaths)

7. Finally, notice your face. Relax your jaw. Relax your scalp. Breathe deeply and wiggle your jaw. Is your face tense? Smile a little bit, puff your cheeks. What does your face feel like? Let your jaw get heavy, and yawn if you need to. Just notice how it all feels. (5 breaths)

8. Now bring your attention to your whole body. Your heart rate will have lowered, and if you were feeling anxious or uneasy, you may notice a slightly calmer feeling. As you wrap up the exercise, pay attention to what’s going on in the room around you, and reassure yourself that you are okay, you are safe, and you will be just fine. (5 breaths)

 

You can work through this in a meeting, in the car, in class, or laying in bed. You can use this when you feel overwhelmed, worried, angry, or insecure. Grounding exercises are an important tool in the emotional regulation toolkit, and the more you practice the easier it will be.

Now go drink a glass of water, and give someone a hug.

Anxious

Photographer Katie Joy Crawford recently released twelve self portraits that make painfully apparent what life with an anxiety disorder feels like. Haunting photos make real for the viewer the experience of feeling one’s voice strangled by anxiety, their mind clouded, and even what it is to actually feel an absence with you wherever you go.

““Anxiety bars the sufferer from the risk of discovery, the desire to explore new ideas, and the possibility of exiting a comfort zone,” she writes in the description of her project, ‘My Anxious Heart.’ “It makes sure that it will never be alone. It finds you when you’re in the midst of joy, or alone in your own mind. It is quiet and steady, reminding you of your past failures, and fabricating your future outcomes.””

See them here.

Sex Workers Outreach Project

Sex Workers Outreach Project USA is a growing social justice network devoted to providing outreach and advocacy for sex workers in the United States.  SWOP provides Continue reading “Sex Workers Outreach Project”