Equipping your Anxious Kid to Overcome

I see you. I know how helpless you feel as you watch your kid unravel in worry and fear. I know the loneliness that comes when other parents seem to have it so easy. When simple things turn into big issues real fast. Then you aren’t sure how to turn the day back around. It’s hard. But it’s a lot easier when you aren’t caring for your anxious child alone. Practically how can you help your kid? And what role does faith have in caring for anxious kids?

I’m not a psychologist, but I’m a mom on the front lines. One of my kids is just like me. She has anxiety. But at first, I thought her daily “big emotions” were a behavior problem. I tried to contain the fits and outbursts. But then I realized the root of the problem ran deeper to her core. She wasn’t just throwing tantrums, she was fighting the mental illness of anxiety. And I realized it’s my job to equip her with tools to overcome. Here’s some ideas to get you started…

1.Diffuse YOUR anxiety and MODEL well

Many of us caring for anxious kids suffer from anxiety ourselves. I’ve noticed as my daughter spirals, my heart races, it’s hard to breathe, I fear losing control, and I easily go into freak out mode trying to control the situation. Wrong.

You and I need a plan to check our feelings at the door when caring for others. Explaining your process of combating anxiety is the first step. Tell your kid, “I’m feeling anxious so I need to….” For example, I tell my daughter to wait because I need to take some deep breaths, and I need to step away to a quiet room for a minute to calm down. She sees my healthy process of dealing with anxiety. Meanwhile, I ask God in prayer to help me see the situation through His patient and loving lens. So model your strategies and pray. (*side note, you may need counseling to cope with caring for your child. The healthier you are, the more you can help your kid)

2. Treat the Physical & get over judgment

Equip your kid with tools they can learn and implement when you’re not there– ones that will last through adulthood. Some ideas are therapy, essential oils, chiropractic care, physical therapy, yoga, meditation/quietness, diet change, stepping away to a safe environment. Be willing to try any healthy avenue you think could help your child because no two children are the same. Your kid may need therapy and oils while another may need more sleep and medicine. Don’t let others’ comments deter you from pursuing the best plan for your kid.

3. Model Spiritual tools

Each person has a body, spirit, and soul. So we can’t ignore that our kids suffering from mental illness need divine help as well as physical. Empower your child through Scripture and prayer. When kids feel powerless, they need to be reminded they have a powerful God. In meltdowns you can remind them they have a God who will never leave them when they are fearful, upset, or anxious. The seed of truth planted in hard moments will last a lifetime.

Pick three verses to focus on. They should be short and easy to memorize. My favorite verses I say to my daughter as she takes deep breaths and squeezes my thumbs in her room to calm down:

Matthew 6:34 , Joshua 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:7

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Photo by Aswin on Unsplash

3. Listen Well

Last night my daughter told me, “I get mad and yell because you don’t listen to all I want to say.” Gulp. Sometimes my fix-it mind wants to hear part of her story and then make it all better. But that’s not what she needs. Kids with anxiety need a trusted adult who can sit with them in the hard and listen well. Not only does it bring to light their unseen anxiety, it also helps us understand the heart of the issue. As you listen, tune your ears for the core problem. Is it fear, loss of control, fear of failure, insignificance or feeling unloved? As we diagnose the real issue, we can guide the conversation back to truth.

Practice silence as you sit with or hug your child. I know dinner is on the stove and basketball practice is in ten minutes, but they are more important. Don’t try to hurry the process. Listen well. Hear the real fear. And gently guide the conversation back to truth. Sometimes the act of being silent and steadfast reminds my daughter she’s not alone and she’s able to work her way out just by me sitting quietly with her.

#4 Bask in Grace

You are an amazing parent. The fact that you clicked on this blog and want to empower your anxious kid shows it. I want to remind you that God promises to finish the work He starts in each of us. Especially our anxious kids. As we are faithful to equip, empower, and embrace them, Jesus is doing so even more. He hears our prayers. He sees our need. And He will give grace for each day however we need it as we surrender our kids to Him in prayer. God hand picked you to guide this child and He’s planted sufficient power within you through His Holy Spirit to do it.

I hope this post makes you feel less alone and more excited as you put into practice some new ideas. I want you to feel empowered as you do what’s best for your anxious child physically and spiritually. And I send you a virtual high-five and hug from one caregiving parent to another.

Featured Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Find your voice in the conversation. Q: What helps your kid overcome anxiety or panic attacks? Help other caregivers with your ideas by commenting below or on Facebook or Instagram. 

 

**Here’s how to GET MORE free encouragement from me right to your inbox! Join the Glory-Be sisterhood. You matter to me! I’m so glad to walk in faith with you.

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk. Soon to come from Andrea! Video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread!

Caregivers of Kids with Invisible Illnesses

I’m so thankful my fellow writer, Jessica Brodie, wrote this piece for Glory-Be today. It validates the invisible struggle so many of us are fighting for our kids. I pray it encourages you today. -Andrea

 

Caregivers of Kids with Invisible Illnesses

By Jessica Brodie

I have a child with mental illness—debilitating anxiety and depression that at times impacts not just her but the harmony of the entire house. 

I’m no stranger to these issues, for mental illness runs in my family. Just as some families have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, several of my family members struggle with chemical imbalances in the brain.

But it wasn’t until 18 months ago, when I attended a mental health symposium, that I fully began to equate mental illness with physical illness. Prior to that, while I knew it was “real” and “important,” I somehow got the message that mental struggles weren’t “as bad.” 

I heard some hard truths at that symposium. One came from United Methodist pastor Dr. Robin Dease, who noted, “Just like cancer, mental illness is a disease that requires treatment.” And Zenethia Brown, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Mid-Carolina, delivered another hard truth, stating, “We treat ailments of the body different from ailments of the mind.”

“We treat ailments of the body different from ailments of the mind.” – Zenethia Brown

Those statements were game-changers for me, illuminating the bias and misunderstanding I had about mental illness and driving new awareness and compassion within my soul. I’ve always been supportive of people with mental illness, but this newfound knowledge ignited a zeal within me to stand up and speak out as a passionate advocate for mental health awareness—both in my family and for all people. 

Yet I must have carried residual bias within me, for two days ago, I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a statement from a friend that hit hard.

Deborah L. Alten (known on Twitter as @gtargirl), posted, “Some #caregivers take care of their aging parents, some take care of children, and some bravely shoulder the responsibility of caring for loved ones who battle #mentalillness.” 

Her words made me stop and stare at the screen. Me? A caregiver?

Me? A caregiver?

And yet that’s who I was, only I hadn’t ever realized that.

See, I’d always thought of “caregiver” as someone who tends a parent with dementia or cares for a spouse with cancer—some physical need. Until I read Deborah’s words, I’d never thought otherwise. 

And that’s the bias and misunderstanding still hanging on, for the truth is that mental illness is as much of a malady as physical illness. 

Jesus said He came not for the well, for “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17 NIV).

And as we see throughout Scripture, He didn’t only heal illnesses in the body. Though He did heal His share of lepers, the blind, and those with serious fevers, He also healed illness in the mind and soul. 

Jesus healed every part of broken people — including their mind.

One example is in the Mark 5, where Jesus called demons out of a man so tortured he was living among the tombs, and He restored the man to his senses (Mark 5:1-20). 

Another is in the example of the four friends who lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof, from the Gospel of Luke. In the passage, the men knew Jesus was healing the sick but they could not get access. So these men got innovative.

“When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered (their friend) on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” (Luke 5:19-20 NIV).

Immediately, the Pharisees were outraged—who is this man who says he’s like God and can forgive sins? 

But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He asked, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home.’ Immediately (the man) stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on, and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed” (Luke 5:23-26 NIV).

Jesus knew sick meant sick—whether that is being unwell in the body, the mind, or the soul. 

As He said to the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel of John, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14 NIV).

His living water heals us all no matter our infirmity, whether our thirst is from a physical or an emotional need.

Our friends and family battling mental health issues need us to step in like Jesus did. Fierce women model so well how to care for those with physical diseases everyday. Let’s adopt the same intensity as we rally for our people battling invisible illnesses too.

Q: How are you caring for those with mental illness? What’s the hardest part? What gets you through it?

Find your voice in the conversation on Facebook or Instagram

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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.

**Here’s how to GET MORE free encouragement from me right to your inbox! Join the Glory-Be sisterhood, you matter to me, and I’m so grateful you let me serve you:)

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk