I have been asked by many parents to explain Anxiety for children, in an way we (as parents, teachers & the entire community) can help children. The statistics of Childhood Anxiety is frightening, according to Beyond Blue in every year there are on average:
- 112,000 children aged 4 – 17 being treated for depressive disorders (that’s 1 in every 35 kids)
- 560,000 children aged 4 – 17 being treated for mental disorders (that’s 1 in every 7 kids)
- 278,000 children aged 4 – 17 being treated for anxiety (that’s 1 in every 14 kids)
- The number of deaths by suicide in young Australians is the highest it has been in 10 years
I am sure you will agree that this has become a very serious community problem.
These are shocking statistics right, but in 25 years time who will be looking after you in your retirement? These kids, that’s who! If these statistics are this bad now & we continue do nothing, then how bad is it going to get? It’s a topic I bet you have never thought of. This very depressed, anxious, tech driven generation will be the people running the world & caring for us in our old age. I am not sure that this is the vision I had for my future, how about you? Worse still is that most of these cases are being treated with medication to “calm them down” or in other terms “Sedate them & make them more manageable”! In my opinion, this course of action is not helping, it’s just masking the real issues these kids are facing. From working with kids in schools, daycare centres, libraries & being a mum of a 4 & 2 year old you could say I am on the “front line” in the fight against mental illness, so let’s break it down & see what is really the actual source of the problem. Let’s treat the problem not just the symptoms before it’s too late.
Anxiety is an emotion, as per definition “it’s a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”. It’s also a hyperarousal (fight or flight) reaction to the fear that something bad is going to happen. As an adult I can understand anxiety makes me feel. Contextualise this for a child under 8 years old, this is no longer anxiety, this is full blown fear, full of monsters & scary creatures that do lurk & kill children (as the fairy tales & the news tell us).
This brings me to my first point Fairy tales & the News.
Fairy Tales before bed
Have you read the old fairy tales lately? I have as I have little one’s & they are filled with Anxiety issues!
Let’s take Hansel & Gretel for example, you know the 1 about the kids getting taken out into the dark scary woods(fear of the dark) & being left there by their Father (Abandonment, Separation Anxiety) because their parents couldn’t afford to feed them, (Money Issues, Fear of parents losing their job/business) until they came upon the witch who took them home & wanted to eat them (Trust Issues) so of cause they had to kill her (Survival of the Fittest & could I do that, Worthiness Issues). OMG, this “story” could put anything into a kids mind, if left there unexplained. I think this was 1 of the stories that scared me for life.
Even the Three Little Pigs. Again Mother couldn’t afford to feed them (Money Issues, Abandonment, Poverty) so they had to make their way in life & go their separate ways & try not to be eaten by a wolf. Oh Come On. I believe that the good old fairy tale is why so many of us have depression & anxiety now, because all of our emotional beliefs are created in childhood. Who out there can remember a scary story from your childhood & what were the issues in the story? What are your issues now? It’s food for thought.
My Reading & Bedtime Tips:
Pre read a story before you read it to your kids (this goes for Nan & Pop too)
Make sure it is appropriate, age worthy & explainable!
Be aware that bedtime stories can create nightmares especially for kids with Fantastic Imaginations.
Make story time quality time with your kids
We have our stories after dinner with dessert & both children pick the stories they want us to read.
Make sure you ask if they have any questions about the story.
Avoid arguments, negative talk about jobs/money & day to day stresses (you will have time to discuss this when they are asleep)
Essential Oils work wonders on stressed kids (& parents).
I use essential oils on my kids feet, legs & back nightly, while we discuss our day & my kids sleep through.
Keep it routinely, simple & happy before bedtime.
This also goes for TV, Movies, YouTube & the NEWS.
Personally I don’t watch the NEWS. I find it depressing, morbid & irrelevant to what is happening in my life.
I really don’t want to know about the robberies, murders, drug dealers & the like.
Some will say I am naive & completely out of touch & that’s ok, I’m doing this for my kids.
I know it all exists but I don’t want it in my living room scaring me or my kids.
I really feel for all the distraught parents in America, that have had their kids taken from them due to school massacres.
The coverage for these deaths is newsworthy but why can’t it be done in another time slot?
Seriously, I don’t want my kids manifesting that this is what happens when you go to school, do you?
Have you asked your kids how this makes them feel?
TV is background noise to many & on all the time.
As you are aware kids are sponges & glued to it for as many hours as they can.
I completely understand the TV babysitter to get things done, but please be aware of what is on the idiot box.
I would love to change the time slot of the news, or only have it on 1 channel. We supposedly live in a democracy so Who’s with me with getting the Time slot changed?
Let’s try little things & lets see if it works, we have to try something!