Kids grow in spurts, I think all parents have noticed this. But do you know that they also make leaps emotionally as they grow up? Imagine the confusion they feel when they hit preteen years and later become teenagers. I know, we’ve all been there but it doesn’t mean we are experts, especially with others. If we were lucky to be contained and framed by our friends and family we were able to navigate it and come out on the other end like a pretty centered young adult. But a lot of people are not that lucky. When we see our kids struggling to make sense of their emotions, the best we can do is to be present and listen to them. We tend to tell them very quickly, it’s ok, don’t worry! Instead of staying with them and letting them feel whatever is going on at that moment.
When my teenage daughter started having anxiety and panic attacks, my first reaction was to say, don’t feel that way, all is ok. But that was like shutting her off instead of opening the space for her to talk about it and explore what was the problem underlying this feeling. We then opened a dialogue and started working with a coach to see what was causing these feelings, but what was very important was to learn how to manage her reactions to the feelings by understanding them. It is crucial to be able to give your kid tools that they can use when they feel the anxious thoughts starting to flood their minds and before the physical reaction is out of control. These tools are mainly habits they need to incorporate to their daily life that will create a safe go-to place when they start getting anxiety.
As a parent, it’s important to remind ourselves to let them feel what they feel. By acknowledging their emotions you teach them empathy and self compassion. They also learn that all emotions and feelings are a normal part of each of us and it’s ok to feel them. The point is that if your kid finds him/herself in a situation where the emotions become too overwhelming, especially fear, they can use strategies to calm down their mind instead of letting it spin out of control. Be with them and love them by letting them be uncomfortable in their growth.