Child Anxiety

Child anxiety, can present as refusal or reluctance to go to school which so easily arises from a child’s anxiety manifesting as extreme shyness or nervousness. They could have difficulty or fear interacting with their peers so develop a strong need to stay at home with family members. Their anguish may be expressed in the form of frequent temper tantrums, crying bouts, broken sleep and/or nightmares. Bedwetting is not unusual. The anxious child who does attend school may also have difficulty in concentrating and so their academic performance tends to drops off, neither is it unusual for children to present with physical complaints such as headaches, stomach-ache, muscle aches and general tiredness.

Tackling child anxiety successfully is of paramount importance for the sanity and well-being of both parent and child. We need to therefore consider a number of strategies.

Firstly, we need to question how effective we are as Primary carers/parents in creating a stable, predictable environment at home. What this means, is that we need to develop routines at home so our children know what is coming up next. The bedtime routine for instance, has the same format each evening i.e. the evening meal is followed by play time then having a wash/bath and leading to getting dressed into pyjamas prior to a cuddle and read before bed. Likewise there would be a set routine in the morning which might be getting dressed after getting up, eating breakfast and only playing with toys/watching TV when they are completely ready for school. These examples do sound quite ‘picture perfect’ especially when these two periods of the day are the very times that our children are likely to play up and become difficult to manage. So how might we manage this situation positively, how might we make it happen?

As parents we need to buy into the concept of being consistent and therefore being predictable. No matter how much our children play up, we need to resist giving in and consistently stick to the set of home rules that we have already put in place. These prominently placed home rules of which there should be no more than five, are placed somewhere visible (in picture form for younger children). House rule examples could be something like ‘Always use a quiet voice indoors’, ‘Always knock and wait, before entering someone’s bedroom’, ‘Always be polite to each other’, ‘Balls are for the outdoors only’.

We make our house rules to suit the smooth running of our own family unit, so they may vary from family to family. Needless to say, small rewards (other than food, sweets and money) need to be given to incentivise your children to keep to the rules, but do remember to keep the rewards varied and very affordable. As the new habits are established, start easing off the rewards replacing them with more praise. Children love positive attention and are therefore more likely to repeat the behaviour for which they are praised.

All these strategies require a lot of personal effort on the parent’s side but it is well worth the investment. By creating a safe positive home environment that is predictable and stable, your children will find home life comforting, nurturing and stabilising to the extent that a solid foundation of safety has been created at home. In this way our children are being equipped to deal with anything that life throws at them, outside the home. They have a home that is safe and predictable providing a safe secure haven in which they can flourish and recover from the day’s ills. Naturally when children feel valued, listened to and praised for when they do well and loved unconditionally, they will also learn there are sensible repercussions for when they misbehave. They therefore grow up with confidence, self-esteem as well as a sense of personal responsibility for any actions they take. Anxiety has little room in their lives when they grow up safely and securely with a ‘Can Do’ attitude.

Sometimes, despite putting these very effective measures in place, a few children may still present with some anxiety concerns. We now need to look at the fact that children learn by copying. They so easily copy the behaviour of those around them.  Be mindful of members in the family that are presenting with anxiety concerns, in which case it is important that the adult or family member is treated for their anxiety as indeed is the anxious child.

The preferred treatment, Bach flower therapy, which is a natural treatment, free of side effects, is totally safe for babies to take and does not interfere with any other medication, is highly effective yet gentle. There are thirty eight plant based Bach flower remedies (one for every possible emotion that needs balancing). Mimulus is likely to be the remedy of choice here to balance general known fears and anxiety. (However other emotions could be involved that require balancing. Advice can be given on request}.

Mimulus is taken over a 3 week period in drinks or directly to the mouth via a pipette as droplets. If the emotion has been longstanding then the remedy may need to be repeated two or three times with the understanding that the fears and anxiety will progressively diminish. For more information read Preparing your Bach Flower Remedies and Bach Flower Remedies

Bach flower remedies are one of nature’s greatest stress busters and I would strongly recommend these remedies find their way into everyone’s medicine cabinet. Each 30 ml stock bottle contains 80 drops and as only 2 drops are needed to take you through a 3 week treatment, each stock bottle is a very economical form of treatment. Despite ‘use by dates’ the stock bottles remain robust to the last drop for however long. Licensing laws require ‘use by dates’ so never throw out your stock bottles of Bach Flower remedies.

For advice on how to chunk down the above strategies into a meaningful do-able plan feel free to discuss how this can be done to ensure your child’s life chances to maximise life opportunities are put in place.

Overcoming Depression

Overcoming depression is undoubtedly a major challenge in any one’s life, particularly as it is a condition that is likely to affect one in every three of us. A major life event can trigger this condition in any one of us, creating an extreme sense of loss.

Once we have identified that our low moods seem to stubbornly overshadow every waking moment, it is important to seek medical advice. In the meantime there is a strategy we can use for ourselves to help us on our way toward recovery.

 

An effective strategy is to start being grateful for what we do have and to focus on what we actually have. Simplistic as this strategy may seem, it is in fact a very powerful tool. Let me firstly explain why.

 

When we feel so low that we begin to feel like life is synonymous to going through some endless dark colour-less painful tunnel, it is usually because we are experiencing some intense form of ‘lack’. This lack can result from a lack of love from a meaningful relationship, a lack of money from a change of circumstance, a lack of confidence/self-esteem from losing your job or status, a lack of life’s opportunities due to a life changing accident. These are just a few examples of many. Either way they all represent an intense form of loss, leaving us with what we think to be a bleak future. So, the answer lies in reversing this condition with our own inner resources. A quote from Albert Ellis (a renowned American Pschycologist) “You largely constructed your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore you can deconstruct it”

Now, just before you feel immensely offended at the potential accusation that you alone are responsible for your depression, do take into account that depression is not necessarily inherited, but in fact is learned behaviour. If you come from a family seemingly plagued by depression it is only natural that you would have learned how to respond to life events by the behaviours you saw and copied, as well as the attitude of others around you influencing how you view the world and life opportunities around you. In growing up, your habits, or ways of thinking, would seem perfectly normal to you as that was the only way to be as you knew it. We can change the way we view the world as indeed the way we interact with it and of course how we view ourselves.

 

There are several strategies to fully overcome every possible negative thought we hold about ourselves but the one strategy we can more easily employ above any other to reverse that great sense of lack that presides so strongly with depression is “gratefulness”.

 

This strategy requires a 4 week commitment. You will notice an improvement very usually around the second and third week. So let’s begin:

On days one to three, each day think of five things for which you are grateful, examples might be:

‘I am grateful for having a roof over my head’

‘I am grateful for having somewhere to sleep’ (many are homeless, sleeping rough)

‘I am grateful that I have family that care’

‘I am grateful I have access to running water’

‘I am grateful for living in a country that allows freedom of movement’

 

On days four to seven think of 10 different things you are grateful for each day. There are so many things that we possibly take for granted, if you can think of more than ten different things each day then all the better! Celebrate your mobility, celebrate your level of income, celebrate your friends, celebrate your mobile with which to communicate, celebrate nature, the parks etc.

 

On days eight to ten be grateful for 15 things a day, on days. eleven to fourteen 25 different things. On days fifteen to twenty one, think of 35-40 things for which you are grateful. At this stage as you enter your final week, your ‘gratefulness juices’ should be flowing to such an extent that you are easily reaming off 50 and more different things to celebrate. You are likely to have begun developing a sense of appreciation and joy of those things around you in your life. At this stage there is every likelihood that your low moods will have improved somewhat in readiness to begin using positive self-talk which will help improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Those of you who have had long-standing depression may be further helped using the Bach Flower remedy ‘gorse’ to balance your sense of feeling a sense of total hopelessness.

 

In recognising the wealth of so many things that are good and positive around you, there is an increased likelihood that you will start engaging your emotions that were previously switched off. The emotional numbness previously experienced will very likely dissipate and become replaced with that wonderful sense of joy, as long as we allow ourselves to think and feel positively about ourselves – and why wouldn’t we?. It’s just down to choice, for whatever anyone told you, believe me, you are a miraculous being bursting with individual talent and you can achieve anything once you put your mind to it.

Overcoming depression is in fact a reversible process but requires effort and commitment as indeed is the case with all worthwhile projects. Applying the principle of gratefulness regularly on a daily basis for 28 days can not only improve our low moods but direct us toward a successful path of full recovery, opening us up to connecting with our emotions so we can begin to attract more positive things in our lives. It’s just down to choice, for whatever anyone told you, believe me, you are a miraculous being bursting with individual talent and you can achieve anything once you put your mind to it.