Google Dictionary definition:
noun: anxiety; plural noun: anxieties
Anxiety is a great masquerader and notorious for always being wrong. Hidden beneath the surface of many challenging behaviors can deeply lie the source.
What you may see:
What might be happening:
Let’s pretend Jane is a 3rd grader and at school she often displays what looks like oppositional, disobedient and unmanageable behaviors. Her teacher may describe frequent outbursts, running out the classroom, and ripping up papers. She often ends up in the principles or school counselor’s office, she never gets to green on the classroom behavior chart and sometimes she is sent home. Even worse she has been suspended because one time she hit the principle because she could not calm down.
In Jane’s case, the anxiety shows up and she doesn’t have the skills yet (depending on her age and developmental level) to understand it or communicate how she is feeling. Her body and mind go into fight or flight mode, her brain kicks into high gear, she feels like she is in danger and she tries to escape the situation or fight back against it. When she is sent home or gets a break in the principles office, these consequences meet her needs of getting out of the uncomfortable situation that caused her to feel anxious in the first place.
Overtime, as we feed anxiety with our mismanaged coping skills:
So as you can see here in the case of "Jane", challenging behaviors that are often seen as defiant or oppositional can be easily misread anxiety. In a nutshell, if your child’s behavior is unpredictable or they are quick to anger, anxiety may be the cause or this might be something to explore further towards understanding how to support your child.
Here at ABC Behavioral Services, I primarily utilize Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help children manage their anxiety. This therapeutic approach is behavioral and ACTion based focusing on:
If you want to learn more some of my favorite parenting resources related to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Parenting are:
This is Part 1 of what will be a short series of blog posts related to anxiety and panic. You may be reading this if you or a loved one has experienced a panic attack before. If you have, you’ve also probably wondered how to stop a panic attack while it’s happening. This post will go over a few panic attack tips to help you deal with them or help you support your loved ones if they are experiencing a panic attack near you. If you are experiencing a panic attack now, skip down this page to the section, “How to Get Through a Panic Attack" to get the quick anxiety tools you need right now.
You might be wondering what is a panic attack?
A panic attack is different than general anxiety and stress. Often people casually say I am about to have a panic attack when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. However, a panic attack is very different than generalized or social anxiety.
When you are experiencing a panic attack your body is triggered as if there is a real emergency and responds this way even though the situation you are in is not dangerous. You may experience uncomfortable sensations such as (but not limited to):
Your body and mind responds to danger when in fact there is no real threat to your safety...
Panic attacks can happen very rarely or more frequently for some. If they happen frequently or you experience several of the physiological symptoms described above, they could meet the criteria for a panic disorder per the DSM-5. If you are concerned you are experiencing panic attacks often or feel you may need additional support, please seek the help of a therapist or a medical professional who can help you better understand your needs and how to help you with your panic.
How to stop a Panic Attack in the Moment:
Panic attack symptoms can sneak up on you and once you are in a full-blown panic attack there are some tools I would like to share that can get you through the uncomfortable moment. While it is terrifying and during a panic attack it’s hard to see coming out of it ok, they are not dangerous. Another thing to know is they generally don’t last more than 10 minutes with most of any uncomfortable physical sensations gone within 15 minutes. You will get through it safely. Here are a few quick tips to help you do this:
Press Pause and Accept the Moment:
Sit with the Panic:
Hand over Heart & Belly:
Notice Your Environment:
Practice This in Advance:
Here's an important fact: we can’t get rid of anxiety and panic because our brains are actually wired to respond to real danger. Think about it this way, if there was a true emergency, you would want your body to respond and keep you safe! With panic attacks these quick and easy tools will help manage the control that anxiety can have on your life.
After reading this, if you are wanting more information, here is a great workbook I often find helpful in my private practice work. You may want to give a shot on your own or you may find it helpful to seek the guidance of a professional therapist to help you through similar techniques and strategies.
Thank you for joining me for this quick post. Please stay tuned for Part 2 in this blog series coming soon:
What Anxiety Looks Like in Children.