Anxiety in Children: A growing US problem

Anxiety is the fastest growing problem in the US today. More and more children are presenting with problems that show up in physical symptoms and behavioral problems at home and school.

Anxiety is defined as excessive worry over a variety of topics with three or more accompanying symptoms such as tiredness, trouble sleeping, panic attacks, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and muscle aches. The presence of anxiety can lead to other medical problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, headaches or chronic nausea.

The better you understand what is happening your child’s body, the better you can help him or her heal from fears and anxiety.

According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, “serious fear-triggering events can have a significant and long-lasting impact on the developing child, beginning in infancy…Children do not naturally outgrow early learned fear responses over time…and simply removing a child from a dangerous environment will not by itself undo the serious consequences or reverse the negative impacts of early fear learning.”

A child can be triggered just by thinking of giving a presentation at school, getting their homework right, seeing someone get sick or go to the hospital, reading about a disease, imagining monsters in their room, or seeing a bug crawl across their bedroom floor. Children are naturally creative and imaginative but this can become out of control thinking that results in fearful reactions. 

Emotional Hijacking

When children are triggered by a fearful or traumatic event, the brain and body will respond in a way to protect them from further hurt or harm. Even if this trigger is just imagined, it will have the same effect as if they are actually in a real, terrifying situation. The brain is giving the child a false signal that isn’t real or necessary. This signal comes from the emotional, mid-brain of the child in what is called a “fight or flight” response. The result is the emotional brain hijacking the thinking brain (the area in the front of the brain called the Prefrontal Cortex). This is very helpful if we are really in danger. It is not helpful if we are not. 

Fear could be described as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” 

Parents can help children learn how to “Face Everything and Relax.”

In order to deal with this emotional hijacking, parents must help children desensitize to stressful triggers. This is done through systematic exposure therapy, rational thinking, and bodily relaxation tools. We will explore many of these tools in this course. For additional help, it is recommended that you find a child therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders in children. 

Get more tools to help you and your child with anxiety, worry, fear, and panic at FamilyHealer.tv. The courses are free and you can get power-full tools for increased peace and joy today!

3 Ways to Manage Anxiety Before It Manages YOU

Anxiety is the #1 mental health problem in American society. A startling one in eight people describe experiences, every week, that would qualify as a clinical diagnosis of anxiety or panic. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest to manage if you know how!

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming and can be crippling.

Here are three powerful tools, taken from Ron Huxley’s “Freedom From Anxiety” course, that you can use to manage anxiety instead of it managing you:

  1. Pause and Breathe. Take several occasions throughout your day to “pause and breathe.” Set your alarm for every couple of hours to take a couple of minutes to put everything down and take 10 good inhale and exhale breaths. Notice what is happening inside of you and around you but don’t have any judgments about it or need to take any actions. Simply notice and take another breathe. It’s OK if your awareness shifts frequently. Just go back to your slow, deep breathing.
  2.  Detect and Redirect. Play detective by cluing into what you are thinking or saying to yourself when you feel anxious. Again, don’t judge it as good or bad but take note (literally write it down) of what preceded your anxious feelings. Begin to be aware of triggers in the form of situations and socialization that make you feel anxious. Redirect yourself physically to disconnect that trigger from your life. Learn to move to another room or avoid negative conversations or take another course of action that might not lead you into an anxious state. Have a “hot list” of the 5 most anxious producing situations or thoughts to avoid. Challenge these anxious thoughts by asking how much of it is really true? One hundred percent of the time true or 50% or 10% or 1%. Even if it is true 90% of the time, what is different about the 10% that isn’t?
  3. Positive Declarations. Once you have a “hot list” of anxious thoughts, start doing or thinking the opposite. Make a list of positive declarations that start with: I am… I will… I can… Today, I have… I choose… I live… My life is… I know… I take back… It can be hard, at first, to come up with a list of positive statements so enlist the help of others. They will be much more objective. Say them out loud even it if feels awkward as your own voice can be self-empowering. The more you say them the more believable they will become and the more present in your life. Use these declarations whenever the anxious thoughts start up in your head. Yell them if necessary!

Are you ready to be free of anxiety, fear, worry, and panic? Take Ron Huxley’s FREE online course: Freedom From Anxiety. Just click here now!

TriUnity Model of “Freedom From Anxiety”

The TriUnity Model of my online course “Freedom From Anxiety” refers to the three domains of our nature: Body, Mind, and Spirit. This faith-based approach to dealing with fear, worry, panic, and anxiety operate by focusing on our identity and destiny.

In the Bible, a favorite verse is Psalms 139 that declares, at the moment of conception, we were wonderfully and fearfully made. This original design struggles to present itself in a world full of brokenness and pain. Restoring this divine order is the central aim of the “Freedom From Anxiety” course.

To achieve this, the course addresses anxiety in the body by creating safety, turning off the false alarms, building NeuroResilience* to repair the limbic system and balance in the autonomic nervous system. It focuses on anxiety in the mind by capturing negative thoughts that lead to anxious feelings and behaviors. And finally, it concentrates on the spirit that rediscovers our true self and integrates disconnected aspects of the body and mind.

Another favorite verse is “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJB). This sound mind refers to the capacity to bounce back from traumatic events that are the root of much of our anxiety and fears. Having the correct alignment between body, mind, and spirit, allow us to build this capacity to have self-control and positive self-judgments in the face of anxious moments. 

A positive, God-centered identity allows us to have “ease” in life, living confidently and courageously. When we do not have “ease” we have “dis-ease” that affects every area of our nature. Having a higher perspective of yourself, in the world, brings a greater sense of peace. Viewing things from our bodily reactions and our mental experiences give rise to fear and terror. The world can be a scary place. Life can be overwhelming. One definition of trauma is when stressors overwhelm our capacity to manage them. Building spiritual capacity is key to our new freedom.

Learn more about how you can find “Freedom From Anxiety” by taking our free course at http://FamilyHealerSchool.com now.

*NeuroResilience is copyrighted by Ron Huxley, LMFT 2018

Helping Children With Anxiety

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We have created a new course for parents on “Helping Children With Anxiety”. You can view it now in our Online Courses page (click here). This course will include:

  • What is Anxiety?
  • Developing Your Child’s Emotional IQ
  • How NOT To Pass Anxiety On To Your Children
  • 8 Helpful Things (Strategies) To Say To An Anxious Child
  • Children’s Fears: Create a S.A.F.E.R. H.O.M.E.
  • Teach Your Child To Be A Worry Warrior and a Fear Fighter
  • A Healthy Gut is a Happy Gut!

SPECIAL OFFER: Our Freedom From Anxiety program is now available as a monthly membership program. Get new tools for the body/mind/spirit and overcome anxiety for only $29.95 per month. Don’t miss this unique offer…click here for more info!

 

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Born To Worry

I really can’t think of anyone who loves stress. Do you? A little stress is normal in life but it can range from positive, tolerable, or even toxic. When we suffer from toxic stress early in life it can effect how our genes express their programmed ability to manage it.

A new book on the subject of stress, called “Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle, by Daniel P. Keating” reveals how and what happens when we are impacted by toxic stress.

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The book discusses research on epigenetics which is the study of genetic expression and how it is altered by environmental events. Our genes are designed, by our DNA, to cope with certain levels of stress. Positive and tolerable stress can be managed by our stress programs. Toxic stress, experienced early in life, effects if our genetic programs actually get turned on or off.

Our bodies are designed to amp up or power down in reaction to the type and amount of stress we go through on a daily basis. For example, if we find ourselves facing an angry dog, our immediate reaction is to fight or flee in order to survive. If the dog runs off, we might continue to feel agitated for a short while after the encounter and then we will naturally calm back down. Our nervous system is designed to amp up to deal with the dog and then reset itself so that we can function normally again.

Children who have gone through chronic early life stress may have their normal genetic response to angry dogs or any perceived threat altered. If the genetic expression to stress stays continuously on, we move through life as if the dog is always in front of us. In the book, Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle, Daniel P. Keating states the effects of early life stress makes individuals “born to worry.”

Some of the reasons for early life stress can come from internal sources, such as hunger, pain, illness, fatigue, and external sources, such as family conflict, divorce, poverty and natural disasters. Many children suffer from the toxic stress of prenatal substance exposure and parental neglect. This formative time can have prolonged effects on our feelings of safety and our genetic expressions of coping.

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Looking for a speaker/consultant on Trauma-Informed Trainings? Talk with Ron Huxley…

Helping a Worrier Become a Warrior

Is your child a warrior, or a worrier?

That cute — and memorable — phrasing comes from “Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (famous for “Nurture Shock” and now the authors of “Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing”) in The Times Magazine. It’s shorthand for a problem most of us are familiar with: some people seem born to take tests or compete. For others, the whisper of pressure can trigger the seeming disappearance of everything we ever learned.

In their magazine piece, the authors look at what lies under that difference: “how we were raised, our skills and experience, the hormones that we marinated in as fetuses.”

But while understanding the causes may help promote eventual changes in standardized testing, there’s no way to entirely avoid the need to perform under pressure — and no way to avoid it on behalf of our children.
For the parents of worriers, one question hovers over the topic: how can we help our children learn to both perform better, and feel that stress just a little less? I asked the magazine piece’s authors to help me pull out what they learned in researching their article, and to share some other ideas and background that might help.

Embrace the anxiety. Students who read a statement declaring that recent research suggests “people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better” did, in fact, do better on tests, in the lab and outside.

Find competition that’s fun. Spelling bees, chess teams, sports, science fairs: when the pressure is predictable and comes with friends and excitement, even worriers build up their tolerance for the stress that doesn’t include those benefits (like the SAT exams). These competitions “give kids the chance to make that connection between feeling a little anxious and performing at their best,” Mr. Bronson said.

Emphasize success. Even when competition is fun, getting through it is a victory for a “worrier.” Help your child focus on the ebbs and flows of the competitive anxiety, and then remind him to celebrate the accomplishment — and think back to it the next time that anxiety rears its head. Parents comfort children when they feel insecure, but we also need to foster exploratory behavior. “By destabilizing children, pushing them, we help children be brave in unfamiliar situations, stand up for themselves, and learn to take risks.”

Watch for when “stress” turns into “distress.” For many children, short-term stress can be energizing. But when it goes beyond the short term into a larger problem, “parents need to try to find the triggers that change test taking from a challenge state to a threat state.” The child who lost sleep for a month over standardized testing (described in the article) had heard from teachers that school funding and teacher pay is partly tied to these tests now, so he felt an enormous burden to score super high on the standardized tests, to help buoy the school’s averages.

Change the story. “Right now, the story is that college spots are really hard to get,” Mr. Bronson wrote in an e-mail. “Cary Roseth, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, classifies the race to college as a ‘scramble competition,’ like a huge game of musical chairs – except with too few chairs. This is somewhat of an illusion. Every year, U.C.L.A. runs a national survey of incoming college freshmen; last year, they collected data from over 204,000 frosh who attend 270 different bachelor’s colleges. 83 percent of them were attending their first or second choice college. U.C.L.A., all by itself, admitted almost 16,000 applicants. Over 10,000 of them turned U.C.L.A. down. Nationally, 59 percent of all admittances are turned down by the students. So who is rejecting who here? Maybe we all need to hold our tongues when we’re tempted to scare the kids, ‘You know, you have to study harder if you want to get into a U.C.’ And maybe when we say, reassuringly, ‘There’s a good college for everyone,’ we have to convince ourselves first.”

Follow KJ Dell’Antonia on Twitter at @KJDellAntonia or find her on Facebook and Google+.

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