Solving anxiety and bullying for our students

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anxious childIt makes sense that if our child is experiencing aggressive behavior at school that they would also experience more anxiety than others might be experiencing.  If our child starts behaving anxiously, we will want to determine if there is bullying taking place somewhere in there life.  Bullying is not the only reason for anxiety, but certainly it can affect our children.  In fact some say that that if a child is dealing with anxiety they are at greater risk of becoming a target of bullying.

There have been studies that have shown that those who have been bullied, both overtly and relationally, have shown higher levels of anxiety.  This would be those who are threatened with or experienced physical harm or those that have experienced threats regarding peer relationships.  In both male and female students – both have heightened anxiety levels.

Of all of the different ways that students victimize or target others the one behavior – name calling – that has the strongest affect on young men (teens) is being called “gay”.  The use of this term – continually, with intent to harm, and with a difference in power – has the most dramatic affect on young men in creating anxiety for them in life.

On the other side of this, those that receive moderate support from their peers also seem to fair better when it comes to anxiety and dealing with aggression.  My take on this is the need we have as a society – a culture – is to make it not acceptable to call names, not acceptable to act aggressively towards others, to be KIND.   What if when someone in a school called a classmate a name, others stood up for them saying, “in our school – we do not treat others like that”.

Balanced Life Skills is working at creating a culture of peace for our students, families, schools and community.  Join us if you believe in the practice of respect for each other.

How to recognize and help anxiety in a child

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anxious childAnxiety in children can be seen in a number of different ways and yet may be missed by some parents and teachers. While anxiety is a leading mental health concern for children, it can be overlooked because often these children are more quiet and compliant. Unfortunately if a child is dealing with anxiety, they may also deal later in life with depression, even increased substance abuse and a general loss of quality of life.

How can we tell if our child is dealing with anxiety? Here are a couple of the signs.

  • are they clinging when you separate from them
  • are they excessively shy
  • do they worry a lot
  • do they avoid social situations or places do to fear
  • are they complaining about headaches or stomachaches
  • do they experience panic attacks

Anxiety is a normal feeling for everyone and it is not dangerous. Yes it does feel uncomfortable, but it will eventually decrease. Anxiety is temporary and honestly it has it good points too. Anxiety can help us to prepare for dangerous situations or even heighten our performance or motivate us to practice, study or prepare better than others might. However anxiety becomes a problem when we begin to react in the absence of real danger.

Here are just two things to remember though when trying to assist a child who experiences anxiety in situations that are really safe for them.

  • do not give too much reassurance. I know we want to let them know we are there for them, tbut doing so excessively can even raise the anxiety and they do not learn to cope on their own. Giving them some questions to ask themselves about the situation and learning to answer them will teach them to think through the situation or challenge. Model for them how you make those decisions.
  • help them build self-confidence. Praise the efforts they put into facing their fears and the accomplishment of the task they completed. Activities such as an art including martial arts, visual arts and performing arts are all individual and as they work at them they will improve and see their progress. Giving them responsibilities with a pet or in charge of something at home is another way of helping them to see that they are good at these tasks, builds self confidence.

There are more ways of working on anxiety, but a good safe environment and the encouragement of parents and mentors will do wonders for the growth of an anxious child. Balanced Life Skills has worked over the years to with anxious children and parents overcome their fears and grow into confident young men and women. We are a school that teaches peace, including peace within ourselves.

Your Child is Feeling Anxious, Now What?

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separation-anxiety-in-children-300x300In helping our child with any kind of anxiety that they may be feeling, first the child wants to know that we understand what they are feeling. The most important step as a parent is to listen to our child and ask questions about their feelings. Using our active listening skills by repeating back to them what we heard them say, determining their feelings and putting words to those feelings will be very helpful for the child to feeling understood.

The next step is to assure the child that they are not alone, others have similar feelings and you may even tell your child about a time in your childhood. Be careful though not to draw too many comparisons. Your experience and their experience are different and right now it is not about you. Assure your child that  the feeling is very bad and it is temporary – even if it does not feel that way now. The telling of your experience may end with an upbeat ending and how you were able to overcome your fear or anxiety.

Give them the support, encouragement and your own example. If we present ourselves as being very perfect to them, it may make them feel like they cannot live up to the bar you have set. This may be a cause of anxiety for them. As you model facing fears and coach your child, allow them to work at their pace. Pushing too hard can increase anxiety of trying to please while trying to suppress the fears.

Now the hard one.  Avoid giving too much reassurance.  The more reassurance you give by saying things like, “It is going to be OK.” When we are constantly reassuring, we are not giving them the opportunity to learn or gain the strength to cope with their own issues. Of course this is about balance, but reassuring them that they can use their coping skills to relieve the pressure they are feeling is a better way of helping them. will give them even more courage to be bold in overcoming anxiety.

Teen Stress: What Does it Feel Like?

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Fear and stress many times feel the exact same way.  The reason is that both are affected by that Fight or Flight mentality. Every teen has had the challenges that range from the big test next week, to the disagreement (major fight) with your parents.  It may have been a lost cell phone or the kid that is constantly picking on you in school.  It could be worry about your weight or health or something global like the environment or worldwide starvation.

When you are really stressed out and anxious, you may feel it in your heart, your hands or feet getting colder, headache or a rush of blood to your face, your stomach feeling upset or having butterflies in your stomach.  All of these manifestations mean it is time for you to slow down, because as you continue with the load of stressful situations facing you, you are losing physical energy and the ability of thinking clearly.

In the end it is found that 60% of doctor visits are for stressed related problems.  Some studies have shown that 85% of diseases have stress related factors. So we need to take care of ourselves and start with finding what is effective for us to calm down and cope with our stress.

How do you cope with your stress?

Facing difficulties

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Just this morning as I checked my email I received this message in part from one of my mentors. I could not believe how fitting it was for me at this time.
There’s a great reason not to be anxious about the difficulty you’re facing today – it contains a lesson. And once you master it, you will be much stronger and wiser.
Emmet Fox, wrote, “It is the Law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, no matter what they are, must be exactly what you need most at the moment, to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”
“No person can be confronted with a difficulty which he has not the strength to meet and subdue… Every difficulty can be overcome if rightly dealt with; anxiety is, therefore, unnecessary. The task which cannot be overcome ceases to be a difficulty and becomes an impossibility… and there is only one way of dealing with an impossibility – namely to submit to it.”
— James Schuller
James Schuller’s words are so incredibly penetrating on this subject because he’s basically saying that there’s no problem that we should be anxious about. We can either solve it or it’s impossible to solve. Kind of reminds you of the Serenity Prayer doesn’t it? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
I have said to Mr. Doug on several occaisions over the last week – this is our test – Let us together show what it means to be a black belt. Thank you to everyone who has shown us support this past week.