Christine Kutzner M.Ed., RCC - Counselling Services

Parenting Matters Printable PDF version

Volume 4, July 2008

Happy Summer Days to you all!

Getting out of the cold June weather has certainly changed my outlook and disposition! (I’m sure that makes my husband happy too!) I am continuing on with the theme of anxiety for the next several Newsletters because many parents who have attended my presentations or see me privately tell me their child worries all the time and they want to be able to help. So if you know of other parents who share some of the same frustrations as you do, please send them a copy of this article, or have them sign up for their own copy by filling out the form on the right.

I have attended several other great workshops on attachment style parenting and supporting children with ADHD. I will be sharing with you all some great ideas on these topics in the near future.

Enjoy the lazy days of summer!

Steps To Resolve Your Child’s Anxiety

Anxiety is experienced as a physical sensation. There are three components that are involved simultaneously when a person feels anxious. They are:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Behaviours

These components are all interconnected, so parents acting as the “change agent” for their child can investigate further through questions to help their child gain control of their thoughts, feelings or behaviours.

In questioning your child, try to get as much detail in each of the components. Your child may find it easier to first talk about the physical sensations that go along with too much worrying. For instance, butterflies or knots in the stomach, sweaty palms, a headache, feeling flushed in the cheeks. And choose one component at a time to investigate with your child. This does not need to be done all at one time, the goal is for you the parent to begin collecting themes and patterns as to how your child is manifesting their worry.

Example Questions

Thoughts:

  • “Tell me some of the things your brain is thinking or saying to you about this worry?”
  • “Is that true?” “How do you know?”
  • Question for teens: “What is the worst thing that could happen? Is that possible? What are the odds of that happening?”

Do not tell your child that they are wrong in thinking a certain way. Rather the goal is to understand their thought patterns to see where they are stuck in their thinking. The more you use investigative questions, the greater the chance that your child or teen can identify for themselves an irrational thought. Then, once you have a sense of their thought patterns, you can challenge their irrational thought with the same style of investigative questions.

Feelings:

  • “What are you feeling when this worry comes up for you?” “How does it make you feel when you are in school,? At home,? With your friends?” “If your feelings could talk, what would they tell you about this experience?”

Behaviours:

  • “I noticed that you “ran away, cried, went real quiet, hit me, when _________ happened. Can you tell me more about that?” “What else do you do when this worry comes up for you?” “When you have this worry and you are not at home and can’t hide in your room, what do you do instead if at school,? At the park?, On the bus?”

Once you have developed some of this information about your child/youth, you can then help by providing cues to reduce your child’s stress:

  • Talk about the family event or outing that is sparking their worry and have your child come up with solutions on how to “work through” the event.
  • Encourage deep breathing and releasing muscle tension when you anticipate the worry to be present (right before a piano concert, or when parents are getting ready to go out for the evening).
  • Set a goal with your child. Work backwards from the activity or event causing the worry, and break it into manageable steps for your child to work through sequentially. Be patient. Your child’s fear or worry in anticipating the event may be great! Praise each step and see a set back as a “job well done for trying.”
  • Visualize being successful. For example, “See yourself in your classroom sitting beside your classmates. Breathe in deep and tell yourself you know the material, you studied well. Breathe out and feel your back against the chair relaxed. Now your teacher is passing out the exam. Breathe and see yourself feeling confident. Go through the exam and answer the questions that you know first.”
  • Celebrate their effort in trying even if they feel they didn’t fully succeed.

  • Work with your child to think more positively about life

Christine Kutzner, M.Ed. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor providing services to children, parents and families in North and West Vancouver. To inquire, contact Christine.

Copyright Christine Kutzner, 2008. All rights reserved.


Christine provides counselling services to children, parents, and
families in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.

Christine Kutzner
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