Tag Archives: anxiety

Empathy in Action: Nurturing Growth in Your Child
Cuddles

When parents direct their kids and tell them what they should do to improve themselves, it lands on the child as I’m not okay the way I am, instead of empathy in action.  

Q. “How can I help my 8 year old son understand that I love him just the way he is AND I want him to grow, learn and improve? He says he feels humiliated and ashamed every time I ask him to learn something new because he feels like I’m saying he needs to be better than he already is.”

A. How wonderful that your son can tell you how your requests feel to him. So many kids just cram their feelings inside, and so many parents dismiss and deny their remarks with comments like, “That’s not true. I love you just the way you are. I just want you to learn to do new things.”

That sounds logical—to the mind of an adult. But an eight year old doesn’t read it that way. 

The hard part for the parent is to listen and learn from the

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How to Find Acceptance When Your Children Are Different from You
Resting child

Q. I have two daughters, 12 and 10. We have a wonderful, respectful, open relationship. The older is very much an introvert, like me and my husband. She works hard academically, achieves well, and has a mind that races along a million miles per hour. She is always up to something constructive, is very comfortable in her own company.

The younger one is a quiet extrovert and wants to be entertained all the time. Academics come easily to her, and she gives up if something is hard. She seems to have little drive to do much at all. Being on her own is like a form of torture. We do a lot together as a family—board games, walks, parks, doing crafts together, cooking and eating together etc. I am strict on minimizing screen time.

I have a very hard time seeing her lie around doing nothing, watching everything I do. I feel under pressure to entertain her but want her to entertain herself. If I suggest anything for her to do alone, she says no. I don’t want her to

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How to Resist the “Toughen Up Trap”
Mom Yelling

The family is a nurturing ground, not a training ground. When I hear parents say, “My job is to prepare him to deal with the real world. People out there aren’t going to care how he feels about what he has to do,” I hear a justification for traditional, authoritarian parenting, and I want to counter it to expose the moving parts.

This all-too-common argument about the responsibility of parents offers license to the threats, punishments, and blame that get dished out, and has forever been dished out, to ensure children’s compliance to what the parents want. When the adults in that family have been brought up under similar punitive tactics, those adults must justify the reasoning behind those tactics. To carry on with the same methods hated and dreaded by those adults as children, they must create a belief in their ultimate worth. “It’s for your own good.”

What good comes of authoritarian coercion? Answer: The continuation of this way of raising children. This is called generational trauma as patterns of parenting pass on through the generations and allow

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The Power of Empathy
Crying Boy

Story: My strong willed 8 year old was diagnosed with anxiety and displays this with anger. Last March I got diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery. His anxiety hit the moon. He’s been acting out by throwing a ball at kids, stepping on their feet, throwing sand, yelling, etc. I practiced your principles of empathy, and he was able to tell me about a kid teasing him for not climbing the rock wall. I would never have found this out had I not set aside his behavior and my problem, used compassion and empathy, and listened. Yesterday when I picked him up, he came running into my arms and cried and cried really, really hard. WOW! He hasn’t cried like that in years. He cried the whole way home and continued at home and let me just sit there with him. I used empathy when needed and let him say all these horrible things about a kid who’s been bullying him. Bingo, I got to the root of his behavior, went right past those weeds. I did my best to

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Helping Children Confront A Bully
Bullied Child

Q. Ines, 8, is a very sweet playing, sporty, capable but gentle friend. On the playground one of her better friends at school is starting to bully her. Tonight she was crying as the girl was telling her to go into a dark shed in the playground. Ines said she didn’t want to as she was afraid of the dark. The friend teased her for being a cry baby and insisted etc. My question is what do I do? I encouraged her to say STOP! and that you don’t like the way she is treating you, but she says that is not kind and she doesn’t want to be like her friend. I said to her that she needs to say stop for her friend’s sake too. She ‘practiced’ saying it but sounded like a mouse… that’s not going to transmit a message of strength. She’s going to a party tomorrow and this friend will be there. Ines is afraid that this girl will insist that the room be dark. I know the parents well and could talk to them

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Want to Know the Secret to Supporting Your Perfectionist Child?
Anxious little girl

Q. My daughter freezes when she is asked a question on the spot or during exams because she is fearful of being wrong, not knowing the answers or not being able to complete the entire tests. What advice should I give her to help her overcome this fear?

A. Of course you want to help her deal with her fears. Most parents, I find, live by the myth that you can help your child by telling them what you have learned as more experienced human. Makes sense. You want to tell her something that will make her see the light and stop being fearful of getting it wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Advice rarely helps unsolicited.

Your daughter was likely born with sensitivities for self-awareness, a desire for approval, as well as strong capabilities. This can underscore any ideas she has of how important those capabilities are to gain the approval she wants.

As parents, most of us are unaware of how our expectations of our children effect their behavior. Of course, we want our children to do

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Feb ’22 Q&A Hitting a Wall? (Revising a conversation from May ’20)
Emotional Exhaustion

Q. I’m utterly overwhelmed. I’m resentful of those who have support from a partner and grandparents and guilty for feeling resentful. Frustrated that there’s no end in sight. Exhausted, emotionally and physically. Sad. I miss my family and friends. Lonely. 3 kids 1, 4 and 8 entirely on my own. Working 60 hours a week. Trying to be grateful I’m employed but there is no balance possible when you have 3 kids in tow. I don’t bathe or sleep without them and if I try, they scream or immediately ‘need’ me for something which is their anxiety showing up. It’s endless. How do I stay sane?

A. We’re on year three of a global pandemic and all of us, especially parents with young unvaccinated children or families with unpredictable child education schedules due to positive COVID cases, are still very much in the throes of it. If we thought we were exhausted in May, 2020, it’s certainly not gotten better for a lot of people. Maybe we’ve become more accustomed to our reality, but emotional stress among our hardworking families

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‘Tis the Season for Compassion

Holiday Hug

Expectations are always high at this time of year. It’s the season for joy, friendly people wishing each other cheer, generosity of spirit, and family gatherings. But just as often, it’s not for so many.

The stress and tension of buying gifts, satisfying expectant children, and anticipating family gatherings fraught with anxiety and judgement are also heightened at this time of year. Loneliness, grief, and loss feel heavier now than at any other time. Suicide statistics peak. And on top of all the usual stress, we are in our second holiday season marred by a world-wide pandemic with a new and possibly scarier variant at our doorstep. The unhappy and the sick feel more isolated, rejected, and angry at this time of year.

Now that I have fully depressed all of you, I do not mean to be a downer. What I want is to prod your compassion and empathy to understand that this season is just as hard for many as it can be joyful for others.

Can you allow a family member’s, even your child’s, sadness, depression, anger,

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Thinking Outside the Box for School-Resistant Kids

Frustrated Teen

My proposed solution is simple: don’t waste a lot of time and money pushing kids in directions they don’t want to go. Instead find out what weirdness they excel at and encourage them to do that. Then get out of the way. ~ Seth Godin

Q. What is the best way to respond to my 12 yo son who refuses to go to school? It started after he had 2 teachers who focused on the things he couldn’t do. We eventually pulled him and put him in private school but that only worked for about a year. We pulled him altogether last year on the advice of his therapist. Virtual school was a nightmare, and we were taking care of my dying father in the house too. It was too much. He really hates school. He is super smart but has dysgraphia, ADHD and anxiety so he really struggles.

A. I imagine there are a lot of kids this pandemic has pushed to the surface who were falling through the cracks pre-Covid. The silver lining of this struggle may be

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May ’18 Q&A – Confidence, Empathy and Shopping

Is it lack of confidence or too much control?

Q. Our 5-year old boy is struggling with confidence. He has difficulty focusing at school and we don’t want him to get behind. There are 22 kids in his class and the school has an expectation of work. Also has trouble focusing at soccer practice/games, anytime things are going on around him. He has no issues interacting with people, kids or adults. I believe he lacks confidence because he is afraid of trying new things. He doesn’t like to fail and gets frustrated easily when he can’t learn fast. He also gets very embarrassed when things don’t go as expected.

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