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48: 4 Tips for Parenting Anxious Kiddos

By January 29, 2019November 9th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
48: 4 Tips for Parenting Anxious Kiddos

In this episode, why I believe we can greatly help our anxious kids learn effective coping strategies when they lack skills and are feeling out of control. We don’t have to be afraid or feel powerless when anxious emotions are expressed by our kids. We do have the power to help them.

Topics Covered:

The 4 Tips:

1. Manage your brain with a mantra

2. Shift the focus from their head to their body.

3. Model breathing

4. Empathy

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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0 (1s):
You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode 48. Hey, podcast listeners. If you happen to have a strong-willed kid who is kind of pushing every one of your buttons lately, I have a resource for you. I made you guys a free guide where you’re going to get some tools and tips and strategies to quickly get on the road to creating a happier household. I know you’re pulling your hair out. I wanted to make you something, so you could start getting some quick wins and building some momentum. So if you want to grab your copy, just go to Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash Free Guide and hope you enjoy it.

1 (43s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flow.

0 (57s):
Hi guys, today’s episode is for Tips for Parenting Anxious Kiddos. So recently I saw a thread in a mom’s group on Facebook, where a mom was talking about her five-year-old and how she’s a working mom. And she said, my five-year-old totally freaked out this morning at school. And my mother-in-law takes him to school. And basically he freaked out because his teacher was out and, and there was a substitute and he totally freaked out.

0 (1m 42s):
And my mother-in-law ended up taking him home. And I really wish she wouldn’t of done this. And I’m just afraid that now he’s going to think that anytime he doesn’t want to stay at school or something’s different, he’s going to want to go home. And she went on to say, you know, along the, the, the thread, as she responded to people, it was, you know, you know, there’s a new baby in the house. He’s always had a real difficulty dealing with change. Anytime there’s a change and all the things she was describing, basically to me, he said he was a kid with a sensitive nervous system. And there was all of these moms Chi-Ming in and, you know, basically bagging on the mother-in-law.

0 (2m 30s):
And my thought was, I actually think that the mother-in-law probably did the right thing and didn’t set a precedent. I mean, not that he was supposedly having a full blown meltdown and the sub didn’t know how to deal with it. The mother-in-law didn’t. She was like, I she, she, she was available to watch them. And so she took them home. So the along the thread, people note people said, it sounds like it was an intense, anxious meltdown. And, and I agreed with that.

0 (3m 10s):
I totally agree with that.

2 (3m 12s):
And so, so here’s a tip when you hear it,

0 (3m 16s):
We have an anxious kid. I want you to know that anxiety often looks like defiance. Remember the quote by Dr. Ross Greene kids do well, if they can. So if you have a child that is seeming defiant and constantly not cooperative and digging their heels in about every little thing, and there’s a total power struggle, a lot of times the that’s about this need for control. And it really quite often is anxiety.

0 (3m 56s):
And, and it’s also interesting because a lot in these threads, in the moms group, and I don’t, no, I have some mixed feelings about these moms groups on Facebook. It’s it? You know, I, I run a moms group that is, that is for my mastermind Parenting membership. And I really monitor it and run it in a very specific way. There’s absolute, I’m really proud of it. There’s absolutely no competition and there’s no condescending tone ever going on. And I notice in a lot of these moms groups on Facebook, it’s quite often like one mom will write it in and either other mom’s kind of commiserate with her, which that can be helpful because I think that’s, Empathy because in, as, as a mom, quite often, you feel all alone.

0 (4m 48s):
And so I think it is helpful when the mom’s kind of empathize in commiserate. Like, Oh, I’d been there. I got it. You know, I don’t know what to say, but it totally been there too. And I feel, yeah, so I think that can be helpful, but quite often somebody is going to chime in with, as an authority. And I think that a lot of times it, it creates a little bit of like my mom’s shame. And so th and so whenever I have seen somebody that’s an authority chime in and, and when the anxiety term gets thrown out there, it’s like, people think that anxiety, when you used that term anxiety, it’s like this, this debilitating malady that it’s like cancer.

0 (5m 36s):
And I think most people identify with anxiety. And I do believe that some people struggle more with anxiety than other people, for sure. And when you have an anxious child and sometimes their anxious in ways that it looks like anxiety, but quite often, when they’re anxious, it looks like defiance. And so I do really believe that we can, we can use, we can seek resources, write like professionals’, that can definitely help them. It can be like, it can be helpful to bring a third-party in, but unless your, your changing the conversation in your home, and you’re using some really powerful tools at home to help your children to feel less anxious and to develop better coping skills, like the professional alone, isn’t going to help your kids.

0 (6m 33s):
It has to be this kind of multiple pronged approach and Parenting plays a big role. So, so what I want to tell you all is, is I have some tools that I want to share with you. If you do have a child that seems like they are constantly power struggling or constantly acting defiant, because chances are, they are trying to control their environment. And they have a lot of anxiety going on. And so this is what I want you to say. This is what I want you to do. Number one, the first tip is you have to manage your brain, because if you are, if you are getting anxious, the minute they start to display some of these behaviors, then that just accidentally adds to the problem.

0 (7m 20s):
So you have to manage your brain. And one of the best ways to do it is to say a mantra in your head, because your brain can only hold one thought at a time. And so when your child starts to go to that place of super defiance and umm, and freaking out, I want you to say in your head first and foremost, like take some deep breaths, calm your nervous system down and say something like, how can I help my child with his problem? Like over and over in your head, how can I help my child with his problem? How can I help my child with his problem? And what this does is it helps you to stop making their behavior mean something. It doesn’t or making their behavior means something about you, right?

0 (8m 4s):
Like, Oh my gosh, like this mom already, this mom was saying like, I’m worried my mother-in-law set the precedent. Like now he’s gonna think anytime he wants to come home, he can come home. He’s going to think that he, you know, I’m not, he’s not gonna be responsible. We are going to have this whole issue with him, not wanting to go to school. I need to raise a child. You know, she was going very future focused. And so saying in your head, something like, how can I help my child with his, with his or her problem is basically just keeping you focused on the present moment and not going to that future focused place, because that never leads to a positive resolution when we go future-focused. So you want to stay in the present moment by managing your brain and a mantra can help.

0 (8m 49s):
The second tip is you Shift the focus from their head to their, OK, let me explain what that looks like. So if your child isn’t in full blown meltdown mode, yet you want to ask them where they were in their body. They feel afraid, worried, frustrated, where you feel like as soon as this child started to be concerned that their teacher wasn’t there, you know, going in and saying your teachers is not here today. You are feeling worried about that. Where do you feel the worry? Where do you feel in your body? And if they are, and what if you get the emotion wrong, it doesn’t matter. They will correct you.

0 (9m 30s):
Right? Like, don’t worry about that. They’ll correct. You where do you feel it? And they might say, well, I feel scared. Where do you feel? Scared. Where do you feel it in your body? Is it in your tummy? Is it in your chest? Where do you feel it? So asking them to describe what it feels like, what it does is it actually shifts their focus from the swirling thoughts and all the panic they’re having in their brains, into the sensations of their body. And once you start to go to the sensation, where are you feeling it? And they start to describe it. Well, then the conversation opens. And when the conversation opens, then you’re able to say, Oh, you’re you don’t know this teacher.

0 (10m 11s):
She’s not, you were expecting to see me Mrs. Smith today. And so you’re really surprised. And you’re like, who is this person? You’re leaving me with mom. I don’t even know this person, or are you sure we trust this person? Is this going to be safe? Like I would. I thought Ms. Smith was going to be here. I love Ms. Smith. And so your tummy is feeling all and nuts because you don’t know who this lady is. Okay. Starting that conversation by shifting the focus to the body, allows you to be able to now support your child. Right? And so, and so that gets the ball rolling for having that productive conversation and what that’s gonna do.

0 (10m 52s):
’cause when they’re not in full-blown meltdown mode yet, what is that that’s gonna do? Is it gonna help them shift up to their thinking brain versus going when we were like, it’s fine. You have to be here. They say, you know, your F you know, w it’s going to be okay, you’re going to be fine. I need to go. When we go to that place of you’re stuck, or I’m not gonna in any way, Hear, you are, have a conversation with you. Instead of them shifting from that emotional brain up to the thinking brain, they shift downwards and then may go full blown meltdown mode. And it’s like the point of no return term. So if they’re melting down, right, like they go to that place where they’re totally melting down how you shift the focus from their head to their body.

0 (11m 38s):
Because, because asking them questions, they’re not able to talk. Once they go into a full blown meltdown, they absolutely are far away from their thinking brain. They can’t speak. So you can’t ask them questions. So what you would do then if they go to a full blown meltdown mode is just to describe what you see. So you’d say something like your fists are clenched. Your eyes are shut right now. I could see your voice is so loud. I can tell you’re really frustrated or mad or, you know, and you just describe it. So, so you’re just describing you have this look like this, and you don’t want, you wanna kind of match their intensity. I see. You’re so mad. Oh my gosh, I see your faces.

0 (12m 19s):
All Titans crunched up, or your eyes are closed. You wanted to describe what your seeing, okay, this will allow your child to feel seen and understood. And ultimately the like look at you when they look at you because you’ve described it. That’s basically them saying, I feel seen and understood. And once they look at you right now, you have your helping them to shift out of that lower part of their brain. And then you want it. And then you want to continue helping them develop these lacking skills. You’re on a model, some breathing. And You, so you’ll say, you’ll start in your wanting to say out loud with little kids, I’m sniffing the flowers, sniffing the flowers, gently blowing out the bird.

0 (13m 9s):
They can also Now doing this and breathing you breathing and describing yourself, flute, breathing. What it does is it allows their mirror neurons to kick in and then they’ll follow your lead. So when they are their mirror neurons kick in quite like, this is why when someone yawns and you yawn too, they’re gonna follow your lead on this. So you’re going to, Model the breathing, the minute they start to, you know, they eat, they, they look at you. And then after you’ve, you’ve been breathing a little bit and you see that they are breathing. That’s when you can use the Empathy that’s when they are gonna start talking, do you want to get them to start talking?

0 (13m 51s):
And then you can mirror back and be a sounding board and your not going to offer advice. You’re just gonna hear them and mirror back and be a sounding board. And, and what these four Tips do is they allow your anxious child to feel seen and understood, and to start to develop really like you’re really helped your guiding them and developing better coping skills so they can stop. They don’t need to be frightened of the anxious feelings they’re feeling in their body. You’re basically teaching them how to Shift into feeling the sensations of their body while also managing their brain.

0 (14m 35s):
Right? And, and the breathing literally is like helping them to lower their stress hormones and increase all the, you know, feel good hormones. So you’re literally teaching them the lacking skills that they have, which is presenting as these super anxious feelings that are showing in defiant behavior. And, and so I really honestly believed that we can greatly help our kids are anxious. Kids learn better coping strategies when they’re showing us that they are feeling out of control in their bodies by shifting into number one, right.

0 (15m 18s):
Managing our own brain. Right? So we’re modeling that when we show up and that calm weigh, how can I help my child with his or her problem? We were teaching them how to focus on their body sensations, going from their brain to their body and stopping all those swirling thoughts. We teach them the breath, this beautiful art, like the way that we all have access to our natural Prozac, right? We’re modeling how we can breathe and literally manage ourselves biochemically. Right? We can manage ourselves, biochemically, biochemically by using the breath and we Model it.

0 (16m 0s):
And then we empathize, which is the secret sauce for all humans, right? All humans. Once they, once we feel like someone really sees us and gets us, it’s like we can’t help, but move back up into the higher centers, have our brain. And so we don’t have to feel afraid or powerless when anxious emotions are expressed by our kids. Like we do have the power to help them through some of these super simple parenting strategies. Like, do you guys see how much value there isn’t this? And then we’re doing this.

0 (16m 41s):
And we are seeking other resources, whether it’s occupational therapy or play therapy and finding really great resources and an outlet for our kids to be able to talk to a third party, maybe, and express themselves and learn some tools from somebody other than us. But we’re also supporting them with, with using these tools and tips at home, like so, so powerful. All right, guys, that’s what I’ve got for you today. And I hope you have a fantastic week. Bye for now

1 (17m 16s):
Your podcast listeners. If you’re ready to take this learning to the next level and get some accountability and some handholding, I encourage you to schedule a call with me and hop on my calendar and to do that. All you need to do is go to Randi Rubenstein dot com forward slash discovery. That’s Randi Rubenstein dot com forward slash discovery. I can’t wait to connect with you.

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