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Anxiety; Taking Children from Angst to Courage
Episode 114 β€’ 10th August 2023 β€’ How Not to Screw Up Your Kids β€’ Dr Maryhan
00:00:00 00:20:47

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I published this first episode about Anxiety in June 2021, and it has been hugely popular. I've recently had lots of requests for help around anxiety, so thought it was a great time to republish it. As they say 'repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment!'

Even if you listened back in 2021, I think you'll find it useful to listen again, especially if your child is currently struggling with anxiety.

In the episode I talk about what anxiety is, how you might know your child is struggling with anxiety, and what can you start doing now to help.

Here are the highlights: 

(1:29) The scale of mental health issues

(3:52) Imagine a seesaw

(7:05) Think about it from your child’s perspective

(9:00) The physical effects of anxiety

(12:53) Managing the internal dialogue

(14:57) The common signs of anxiety

Listen to Ep 10: Anxiety (Part 2)

πŸ’š Let's grow our village together, please share this episode with at least one friend

πŸ’š You can purchase your ticket for the next 60-minutes with Dr Maryhan 'Let's Build Your Child's Self-Esteem'' at 8am GMT on the 1st June.

πŸ’š You can watch the Bucket Emptying Episodes on Youtube

πŸ’š Access the free resources mentioned in the episodes

πŸ’š Join our campaign One Million Moments to reduce the number of children struggling with mental health challenges from 17% to 10% by 2025.



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it is, how does that particular situation show up for us in our bodies? So when we're talking about the well being seesaw for children is exactly the same for us. You think about it as an adult? What are the things that make you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, unable to cope, anxious, worried. And what happens in those situations are the perceived resources are what shows up in your body? So if you are in a situation, imagine your worst case scenario, the situation that makes you feel the most stressed, the most overwhelmed, the most difficult to manage? situation? And where does that show up in your body? Now, I've very publicly talked about the idea that I really struggle with heights and particularly for me, where my sort of anxiety and worry about heights tends to show up most is over bridges. Very strange, but this is my kind of nemesis. And so when I walk over bridges, or when I drive over bridges, this is where I tend to notice it. And actually the irony is the first time I realised this was when I was in year seven to the first year of secondary school. I used to cycle to school. And one particular day I decided that I was going to cycle home a slightly different way. And the path that I took meant that I had to go over I think you call them like a flyover. It's where you basically walk over a dual carriageway. So I was walking over this flyover wheeling my bike. And I think I must have got maybe a quarter of the way across. And I utterly froze, I couldn't walk any further, the anxiety and the overwhelm. And the fear was so immense that I stayed there, completely and utterly paralysed until a really lovely passerby came. Well, from my perspective, it felt like a lifetime, it probably wasn't, they could see how upset I was. And they helped me by basically walking and talking and distracting me as I walked across. So for whatever reasons, for me, this idea about walking over the bridges, and particularly where it's at in it's where I perceive, again, it's about perception, I perceive it to be very open is that I have a real fear of falling off. So from my perspective, the way that this shows up is my internal dialogue, whether I'm walking over a bridge or driving over a bridge is having to walk directly in the middle, avoid the edges, because I have a fear that I am going to fall off. It's irrational. Because again, it's my perception, it doesn't matter whether it's true or whether it isn't true. That's the experience for me. And I want you to understand that that's exactly the same when we're talking about that seesaw, in terms of the experience for your children. And when we talk about resources, it's understanding how does that situation show up in our bodies. So for me, in that particular situation, and just think about it for yourself as an adult, because our children will experience similar things, is it tends to show up for me, in that I get sweaty palms, my hands get really, really sweaty, my heartbeats, really, really much faster than it would ordinarily. And I get what I call jelly legs, so my legs are shaking. So this is how it shows up for me. So when we're looking at my wrist, my well being seesaw. And as it tips, the perceived demands are this overwhelming dialogue that I'm going to fall off


unless I walk in the middle, and that there's that fear. And the resources are that I don't have any resources or equipment in that moment to deal with my sweaty palms, my heart beating faster and my jelly legs. And so this is the way that we need to start thinking when our child is in a situation where they feel overwhelmed, where they feel that they cannot cope with a particular situation where they feel anxious. So it's understanding when we're talking about emotional well being well, whether it's we're talking about anxiety, or whether we're talking about overwhelm or stress that this, these are the two components. So when we're looking to support our children, we need to be addressing both sides of that seesaw. And what we'll do in this in the next two series of episodes are looking specifically at this, we will address one that was specifically looking at the demands, and helping with some strategies for that, and one that specifically looks at resources and helps you with those particular strategies. And when we talk about cognitive behavioural therapy CBT, the typical kind of therapy that would be used to support an adult or a child that struggling with anxiety, the cognitive aspect is helping the child or the adult manage the internal dialogue and changing that narrative. And the behavioural part is about teaching strategies, which helps manage the physiological response. Because stress, anxiety and worry simply triggers our sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight or freeze instinct that basically is like an alarm that goes off and says, I'm in danger. I'm in a situation that I feel threat and fear. And actually, what then happens is, once we've had that thought, Is it then triggers that it's like a domino effect, it triggers that sympathetic nervous system. And we'll look at those in more detail in the episodes to come. But from this episode, I really want you to take away this idea of the seesaw, because it helps us frame the challenges that our children have. It also helps us understand things from our children's perspective so that we understand how it shows up. And actually what we can then do is be much more supportive of our children because it's not about what we think our children are perfectly capable of doing. It's how our child feels in that given moment. So I'm hoping that that explains anxiety and that sort of seesaw. But let's look at a couple of things. I want to look at what are the common signs How do you know so that your child might be feeling overwhelmed, might be feeling anxious. And for me, there are two core components that tend to show up. These tend to be the main ones for me, but I'll talk about some other ones as well. So the first one will be a child who finds it difficult to fall asleep at night. This is the child that's in and out of their bedroom, that you hot that you cold, they're hungry, they're thirsty, they forgot to tell you one more thing, or they needed to pack something else in their bag. It's this difficulty is falling asleep. And this may also be the child that needs you to stay in the room with them until they fall asleep. And the reason why this is such a common sign for anxiety, worry and overwhelm is that day to day when our children and us as adults, if we're looking at recognising these anxieties, even in ourselves, is that we're so busy doing and busy that in a lot of ways the internal dialogue, that narrative, that inner conversation is very much quiet. And because we're busy, we're distracted and we're doing what tends to happen is when it's time to go to sleep is we can no longer distract ourselves, we are no longer busy. But we are alone, in our room, in our bed with our thoughts. And that's where the narrative tends to come in. So whether we've got a child who might be worrying about going to school the next day, or whether it's a child who's replaying a conversation that they've had with a friend where they feel that they wish they did something else, or they're ruminating about things that have happened, or they're anticipatory, worrying about something that's yet to come. That's why it tends to show up particularly at night. So a key one for me is a child that's struggling to fall asleep at night. And then the other one that is common is a child who often complains of tummy ache, that's a real classic one. And certainly for younger children, it tends to show up in there, they tend to notice it in their tummy. So they'll say that they're feeling unwell, or they're feeling sick. So complaints of tummy ache are another one. There are other ones. So it's a sort of areas about you might have a child that might be particularly trying to control routine things, and trying to make sure that things happen in a particular way. Or you might have a child where you're seeing big changes in their mood, difficulties in concentration. So it's a combination of those. But for me, the top two are struggling to fall asleep at night, and complaining of a tummy ache. So those are the kind of the key things that I want you to be able to take away from this particular podcast. And I want to talk now about what do I want you to be able to come away from this podcast to be able to start doing and and it really is it's helping your child begin to build their own toolkit, I talk about toolkits all of the time, because actually toolkits are empowering. It's about having a set of tools and strategies that your children can go to and that you can go to as a family whenever you need some extra support in that time. So for this podcast skill I want you to look at, and it will be if you go to the shownotes you'll get the web link so that you can access this particular tool is I want you to begin to have a conversation with your child or children if you've got more than one that's experiencing these particular challenges, and actually start talking to them about where exactly do these worries, do these overwhelmed does this stress show up in their body. So the resource that you'll find in the show notes is very much around an outline of a body. And really what I want you to do is have a discussion with your child and get them to put either post it notes or crosses in the various parts of the body that they feel these emotions show up. So going back to my analogy, that idea about my sweaty palms, it would show up in my hands, it would show up in my legs, and it would show up in my my legs for my jelly legs, and in my heart for beating faster. And certainly try and model that for your children. So talk about situations that you feel overwhelmed that you find difficult and challenging. And where does that stress and that overwhelm show up for you. And then ask your children to do the same for themselves. Because part of it is just acknowledging where these things show up. And then what we'll do in the next two episodes is we'll build on this and we will start to look specifically at okay, what strategies now that our children know where this is showing up. And we're acknowledging that it's from their perception of how that situation feels rather than ours. What can we now start filling their toolkit with that helps them make the demands of that situation feel lighter, as well as weighing down On on the resources so that they feel that they've got some specific strategies that they can use to help manage all of that overwhelm in their body. So I really hope that you found this really useful in terms of placing a context of what anxiety is, and how it shows up for your children. And seeing it from that perspective. If you would like the free guide if you'd like the resources, then check out the show notes for the web link. And as usual, and finally, if you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love it if you could subscribe and review this podcast so that others can find us and we can spread the love. So until next time,





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