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Parenting in an age of anxiety

Parenting in an age of anxiety

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Parenting in an age of anxiety

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  1. Parenting in an age of anxiety Carolyn Russell Lakeshore Church of Christ 11th June 2014

  2. Tonights’ program • Think about questions commonly discussed around this issue… • To consider where these questions come from……… • To look at ways of guarding our hearts against too much anxiety……..

  3. So that we can parent well !

  4. Questions about certainty…. • “……… many more questions about routine matters from parents, all asked with urgency. I'm not just asked, for example, whether toy guns are okay. I hear, "What do I do if my son points his index finger at me and says, 'Bang, bang'? And by the way, can I ask my best friend to put away the toy guns when my son visits?”

  5. If we do this, then……. • Automatically we will have better behaved kids • Not have trouble • Get them through to….. • Be different from ……. • We are certain to…….

  6. Questions about outcomes • If I allow this….. Then what? ……. • If you do not ….. Then What? ……. • If you don’t obey me….. • If I am not vigilant, then………

  7. Anxiety/Fear leads to thoughts and behaviours questioning • a little physiology • Anxiety both Good and not so good ! • Good to protect, not so good if over protective or avoidant • Good to get out of danger, not so good if there is none.

  8. What do YOU worry about? • Childcare • Should I let my kid do ….. ? • What if they watch too much TV/internet? • What if that person turns out to be a poor friend/they argue? • What if… they don’t get into the right group? The right class? The best job? • What if they miss the bus? • What if the situation is not fixed Right NOW! • What if they fall out of that tree? • What if I do not have enough for that pair of brand name boots?!

  9. Significant Global issues……. • Terrorism • Driving /plane accidents • Alcohol and Drug use • Child molestation • Internet predators • Health issues • Body image • Mental Health issues

  10. Sad Facts …… much of life is like that. • But NOT ALL, and in fact, searching for the other parts of life is protective from the effects of these parts of life. • Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear • Helen Keller

  11. Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. Mark Twain • All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. Ralph Waldo Emerson • The most useful tool for parents in this age is to teach children FROM the lessons, in spite of the situation, rather than protect them from lessons.

  12. Tonights’ program • Think about questions commonly discussed around this issue… • To consider where these questions come from……… • To look at ways of guarding our hearts against too much anxiety……..

  13. Age of Anxiety We live in an age where people ask these questions, and use the ‘WHAT IF ?????’ Constantly Surrounded by IT, movies, TV, where the ‘norm’ is chaos or terror, or people hurting each other or selling to those who believe that ‘the next best thing’ will ease all those burdens……

  14. AGE of Anxiety Advertisers push the What IF? Can you think of some situations/advertisements? • HOWEVER……

  15. Society safer and healthier • Worrying about global events is totally justified, but parents don't have to worry about every aspect of their children's lives. By most measures, kids are healthier and safer than they have ever been. Statistics show that, for instance, child abductions by strangers and school violence are down. Recent policies requiring childproof medicine caps, car seats, and bicycle helmets have reduced accident-related fatalities. Yet parents worry more and feel less capable of making everyday decisions when it comes to their kids, and that is unnecessary. Andregg2013

  16. Why is it so? • What drives toward anxiety, and fear of others, or fear of the future? And then to behaviours to try to limit difficulties for our kids? • Compassion and Love • Pressure • Expectations • Learned behaviours/effects of past burdens in our families/society

  17. Poor thinking can arise from very positive motives! • Overvaluing certain issues • Incorrect information sharing • High expectations though unrealistic • Over involvement for our own needs • Protection of the vulnerable.

  18. Common pressure elements in an Age of Anxiety • Comparisons • Not enough competition (smaller families!) • Parental perfectionism or a perceived failure to atone for • Performance standards of workplaces and schools • Poor understanding and poor communication about individual issues • Body image issues • Pressure of time/status • Adequate finances to MANAGE outcomes • Conspicuous acheivement paradigm • Entitled to……

  19. Understanding development • Erickson : stages • Parenting skills to be tailored for the age of our children.

  20. Parenting anxiety starts Very Early

  21. “My baby is sleeping too much. Should I wake her? Oh no, she hasn’t slept enough and I woke her. I shouldn’t have woken her, I’ve ruined the day. How am I going to fix this? I can’t fix it. I have no idea. I’m a bad mother. She has no routine. I need to put her into a routine. But it’s too late! How will I do this? I should have done it earlier!” • And so on. Endlessly. Hourly. Daily. It got to the point where I didn’t feel like a caring mother unless I was worrying about something.”

  22. What if…..? • Common phenomenon • Increased in those with family history of Anxiety issues or • If you are experiencing Anxiety or Depressed mood at present. • Worse if catastrophe has been experienced recently • Often irrational thinking and yet, cannot stop yourself…… • Exercise: share with your neighbour a story of ‘What if…. Thinking.’

  23. Parenting anxiety continues VERY RARE?

  24. Fear and Anxiety in teen years challenges us greatly! • We lose sight of the outcome we are wanting, or what is possible for this stage. • Consider the picture that you have for YOUR children

  25. You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Helen Keller

  26. Getting our imagination in focus • Develop clearer understanding of how anxiety develops in us • Get more appropriate information/learn • Take care with expectations/assumptions : be realistic • Get support and develop friendships who share and help • Think realisitically about the world and the future • Use your time with children to give them skills, rather than attempting to protect them at all time…… • Then put this into practice, with what we see!

  27. Common pressure elements • Unproductive parenting patterns may develop when children’s failures (real, perceived or anticipated) fuel parents’ anxiety and discomfort. • Two general patterns may develop: 1) overprotectivenesslaced with criticism – driven by disappointment and anxiety, and 2) overindulgenceand failure to set limits – driven by disappointment and guilt

  28. The results….. • Kids become more self-conscious and irony. They put up walls to ward off parental anxiety. They tell themselves, and me, that their parents are too worried; as a result, they may keep whole chunks of their lives from their parents. Andregg 2013

  29. Tonights’ program • Think about questions commonly discussed around this issue… • To consider where these questions come from……… • To look at ways of guarding our hearts against too much anxiety……..

  30. What to do…. • Encouraging kids to think and advocate for themselves, make choices, and experience natural, age-appropriate consequences of their decisions fosters development of responsibility, initiative and competence. Alternatively, when parents don’t trust that positive behaviors will continue unless they take action to secure them, they tamper with and potentially commandeer children’s developing autonomy, weakening momentum and inviting control struggles. Lynn Margolies. PhD Harvard

  31. Tips for Parents: • Notice similarities and differences between you and your child and adjust expectations. • Keep your vision of your child flexible. • Recognize when you are reactive and settle yourself. • Recognize that feelings are not facts. • Hold onto faith in your child. • Don’t impose anxiety, worry and pressure. • Limit “lessons” and focus on stabilizing the emotional climate. • Allow space when children are upset. • Lower the stakes. Develop and offer perspective. • Be present to NOW. Don’t ruminate and envision catastrophe. • Consider outside coaches and tutors

  32. Reassure yourself that you don’t have to be perfect for children to turn out OK, and neither do they. • Remind yourself that letting children make some of their own decisions (within age-appropriate limits) while helping them think through the consequences will help them develop skills to succeed when they are on their own

  33. A.C. Ie. (LIFE AFTER kids! ) • If you don't have a life outside your kids or if you go into high melodrama every time your child reports a minor problem, like an argument with a classmate, you're probably overparenting. Parents need to go to the movies, have a love life, and pursue their own interests. As a 13-year-old patient of mine once said to me, "I wish my parents had some hobby other than me." Now and then, it's even good for a parent to be too busy to look over a homework assignment.

  34. They Grow up and have their own families…. Then they understand!

  35. Contagion of Parents’ Fears • Parents’ anxiety about their children not doing well unconsciously communicates to children a lack of faith that they will be okay. Also, when parents are anxious and frustrated, children become more overwhelmed and unable to use higher mind (executive) functions. In the process, parents miss the opportunity to help children develop resilience. Resilience includes the capacity to manage frustration, hold themselves up, persevere and recover in the face of disappointment. Children develop and download these capacities from parents through cumulative experiences in which we lend them our capacities by maintaining calm, equilibrium and perspective when they are upset.

  36. It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.

  37. Meet Henny Penny

  38. Frame the problem in a more useful way • What can you do, • What can you control • What is in the environment that you cannot control, but can be more aware of…..

  39. It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. Mark Twain