Category: Anxiety

When to Worry about your Child’s Worries

Written by Regine Galanti

Anxiety, like all emotions, is a part of life. It is normal and natural to experience some degree of discomfort or anxiety at some point in life, specifically when confronting periods of change, or dangerous situations. If, for example, I was not somewhat anxious about danger, I might engage in risky behaviors such as crossing the street without looking for oncoming cars. As such, the presence of anxiety does not necessarily signify that anything is wrong.

This is all true for children as well. Ninety percent of children between the ages of 2 and 16 endorse having one or more fears, and worries are typically developmentally appropriate. While toddlers fear separation from loved ones, younger children tend to fear the imaginary (monsters, ghosts), and older children’s fears become more realistic in nature.

Furthermore, the nature of childhood is that change is ubiquitous. From learning new skills and things every day, to entering a new classroom and having a new teacher each year, to growing out of clothing every few months – children are constantly in a state of change and development. It is therefore no surprise that, according to some estimates, nearly 75% of children will have anxiety symptoms at some point.

This is both good and bad news. On the one hand, many cases of childhood anxiety are developmentally appropriate and require little or no intervention. On the other hand, however, childhood anxiety disorders can be real and require professional intervention – and in these cases, symptoms can worsen and persist into adulthood if left untreated.

How can you tell the difference?

Mild to moderate childhood anxiety which occurs during a period of change, is transient (comes and goes), and is not accompanied by significant behavior change usually needs no intervention. In such cases, parents should simply wait out the period of change and see what happens. If the symptoms persist, worsen or the child starts to develop problematic behavior patterns (see below), then a consultation with a professional may be in order.

By contrast, moderate to severe anxiety may require intervention, particularly if it occurs outside a specific period of change. The most common symptom of anxiety in children, however, is behavioral difficulties. It is generally harder for children to be “in touch with” and describe their emotions with words – and so, they may express themselves behaviorally. As such, if a child is having difficulty making friends, refusing to attend school or social events, refusing to be apart from parents or loved ones, or becoming aggressive, it is worth consulting with a professional to determine whether the child might be experiencing anxiety. Simply assuming that a child is being “difficult” or “lazy” can exacerbate the problem. However, with treatment, families and children can learn the skills they need to reduce anxiety symptoms that interfere with their lives.

Continue Reading

Developing Godly Visions of and for Ourselves

Written by David H. Rosmarin

One of the great tragedies of living with anxiety is that it can destroy our vision for ourselves. By allowing anxiety to rule over one’s life decisions, great dreams and aspirations are cast aside in the face of worry and concern. If the trend continues, an anxious person’s world is gradually reduced to a narrow sliver of what it means to be human.

What can we do when our fears and hang-ups interfere with achieving the visions we have for ourselves? How does one regain ground in the greater war against anxiety? Perhaps the answer is not to start by focusing on the visions we have for ourselves, but rather by developing a Godly vision of ourselves.This means several things:

First, developing a Godly vision of oneself entails recognizing the human capacity for greatness. Although human potential is often covered up, every person off the street has incredible God-given talents, strengths, and abilities that are just waiting to be utilized. For example, in some Asian countries, school-aged children are trained to multiple three by five digit numbers in their minds without the use of a calculator or abacus.  [su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lL_b8DkfyA”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lL_b8DkfyA[/su_youtube]

More fundamentally, developing a Godly vision of oneself involves recognizing that each person has a unique and important job to do in this world. Every human being has a one-of-a-kind constellation of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, physical and spiritual characteristics that has never occurred in all of history, and will never again occur ever again in the future. As one of my mentors likes to say: “You are 1000 times more unique than your fingerprints!” That is to say: No one is superfluous or ancillary. Neither you nor anyone else is a fluke or an accident!

Perhaps most important, however, developing a Godly vision of oneself entails believing that our capacity for greatness is truly within reach. Seemingly, if every person has God-given talents and abilities, then God wants each of us to succeed in the unique Divine mission of our lives. That being the case, it must be that we inherently have the capacity for success. Put differently: Every human being is sitting on a gold mine – each of us has unfathomable Godly potential right inside of ourselves, and all we need to do to shine is start digging and refining our potential by striving to achieve our goals and dreams.

All of the above is a formidable challenge for those of us who had a Western education where standardized testing and coursework have replaced efforts to identify and bring out each student’s unique characteristics. Nevertheless, the following 1-minute exercise may be helpful in developing a Godly vision of ourselves:
1) Start by thinking about a talent that you possess. It can be something simple – like the capacity to walk, lift or drive – or something complicated like the ability to downhill ski or play an instrument. (20 seconds)
2) Now, think about a time in your life when you used your talent to make the world a better place. Perhaps you walked someone home, or helped them lift groceries into their car? Or maybe you raised someone’s spirits by playing them a song? (20 seconds)
3) And finally, envision yourself using your ability to achieve a personal goal or dream. Conjure up an image of digging deep to unleash your inner potential through your innate abilities. (20 seconds)

New Beginnings

Written by David H. Rosmarin

It is well known that adjusting to life changes – whether social, occupational, familial, or otherwise – can lead many people to experience anxiety. Why is this the case?

First, there is often a lot do. Adjusting to something new can require considerable investment of time and money, and starting new endeavors can require new skill sets which require energy to develop. In other words, new beginnings tend to be fraught with increased demands. While in of itself, this may not lead to anxiety, when stress runs high people are more susceptible to anxiety symptoms.

Second, new beginnings can decrease access to resources. Over time, people tend to find and develop social supports and other important resources they need to succeed in their context. New beginnings – especially those which involve changes of location (e.g., opening up a new office!) can strain or even end access to resources, and thereby increase stress and anxiety.

Perhaps most important, however, is that new beginnings are associated with uncertainty. At the start of any project, it remains to be seen what will become of one’s dreams and efforts. By contrast, an established initiative with a track record of success, seems predictable, if not certain, and much more safe.

While we may not like to admit it, the reality is that certainty is a facade, and uncertainty prevails even in the most established and “predictable” conditions. Recent events in the stock market, weather, and global security have shown us time and time again that life is simply uncertain! In this regard, new beginnings need not be anxiety provoking beyond the stress associated with increased demands and decreased resources, as long as one is ready to accept and confront uncertainty.

Whether you are or are not presently facing a new beginning in your life, try the following for just 30 seconds each day: Contemplate how uncertain life is, and let yourself feel powerless and vulnerable by recognizing that we are in control of much less than we think.

If we do this exercise well and practice it consistently, we may be better positioned to seek out and pursue new beginnings – and thereby fulfill our life goals and dreams without anxiety.