Have you considered that thoughts might be the cause of your childs anxiety?
We’ve all been children ourselves, right? And if you think back to your childhood there were probably times when you were really emotional. Behind every emotion there is a thought.
If you slow down long enough you can find it. Often though we feel the emotion, because it’s what we notice in our body and that’s where we get stuck. Stuck in the feeling.
Here are some of the most common thoughts or beliefs that I hear working with people, that came from their childhood. The he, she and they in these statements are our Mother, Father, Parents or Sibling (Sister or Brother).
She doesn’t love me
This statement is at the heart of a lot of what creates an emotional reaction in a child. We come into this world deep down knowing we are love and yet here is this person that I’ve depended on for my survival turning me away, not wanting to be with me, play with me, talk to me, engage with me the way I want.
If a child has this thought over and over, then they could begin to wonder why they are still here.
Believing this could begin with the simple act of Mum or Dad saying “No, I can’t play with you now,” or whatever the equivalent is for an older child; “I’m too busy to talk to you right now” “I’m too busy to help you right now”
When the parents response drops inside the child, their emotions are likely to sky rocket. And in that moment the intensity of their feelings may overwhelm them. If they are young they won’t be used to this feeling, and so have no response. They don’t know what to do. How to stop the feeling.
So, often what happens is they shut it down or shut it off and internalize the feeling. This can lead to not only mental but also physical problems as an adult.
They don’t want me
We all know what it’s like, if we have siblings to feel as though we are not wanted anymore, because all of a sudden the sibling is getting more attention than me.
Or maybe it is that Dad works and Mum runs her own business and so daily life is busy with other things than giving your child 100% of your attention all the time.
It’s not true of course and they don’t know that. They don’t know that you have other things to focus on. For them their world totally revolves around them. Because right from day one they have been the center of attention.
He/She is more important than me
This may be the dog we are talking about, or Grandma when she comes to visit, or whoever Mum is talking to on the phone.
They notice that the focus has turned from them to the other person/thing and again it drops them into the space of feeling unloved, and the emotional roller coaster begins.
She left me
This thought is attached to the one above. Believing that because my Mom or Dad’s focus has shifted from me to the other person she’s left me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore.
Or perhaps there is a physical element to this. For example the first time you left your child at kindergarten or preschool. You were/are their lifeline.
Your child may think they can’t survive without you being there, in sight. Their safety net. They think they can always depend on you. Depend on you to hold them, hug them, love them and when you’re not there, they don’t know how to manage, or handle the situation.
I’m not safe
This belief can lead to many nightmare situations. Your child believing that they are hearing monsters or people in their room, under their bed.
Again, it’s the overwhelm of the emotion they feel attached to this belief, which is likely unconscious to them at the time they experience it, that creates their anxiety.
Safety, as we know, is one of the key elements for us, living here in this world. And if we don’t have that, then how can we survive.
Feeling safe comes from our own inner ability to know that we can take care of ourselves, no matter what is happening. Not an easy concept for a child to grasp.
Do these resonate with you also?
Do you notice that the beliefs I have listed here resonate with you as a child? They are common beliefs that a number of us have or have had and still carry with us.
Sometimes it may be worthwhile asking your child if this is what they are thinking, if they are old enough to be able to respond with a yes or no.
It’s also very worthwhile sharing your own experience, as a child, of being in a similar situation and experiencing what you notice they are. This will support the child to not feel alone with what is happening for them.
Ultimately the goal is to support your child to be okay with their emotions, and to know that they are truly loved and perfect just the way they are, no matter what they are experiencing.