Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Giving Children's Anxiety a Name, Face, even Toenails!

Jennifer Kolari's blog post has certainly hit a nerve among parents. I've heard from quite a few people dealing with this very thing. Further to Jennifer's suggestion to give the anxiety a name, my own therapist has suggested to me that I also give it a face. This is cognitive behavioral therapy and should work for your own anxiety or your child's - it certainly helped me.

I was told to come up with an image of what my anxiety looked like - short or tall, what color, etc. What I came up with was a tangle of purplish-brown hairy lines with cartoon eyes, hands, and feet. Right away, my own creature was sort of cute in an annoying way. He only came up to my knees, so I was the one in power. But the greatest thing about creating a separate persona for my fear was that it then existed outside of me--no longer within. It wasn't a part of me, it was a little being I could order away from me if need be.

For example, if I was going to a reading and was nervous, I could imagine this hairy beast, tell him he was not allowed to follow me (bookstores tend to frown upon purple hairballs hanging around, don't they?). My therapist said to give him (see - already he has a gender, ha!) one spot in the house where he was allowed to exist and banish him to his spot when you want to get rid of him.

So if your child is experiencing anxiety, ask her what her anxiety looks like - if it could look like anything in the world. Let her create this creature in great detail and laugh over little parts of it--the ragged ears or yellow teeth. Then have her name it, decide how large or small it is. Let her discuss it's odd habits, then pick the spot where it's allowed to live. Your child will have so much more power over her anxiety, you should see an improvement right away. And as she banishes her little creature to its spot more and more, the creature's strength will gradually begin to fade, leaving your child free from its ugly cracked toenails more and more.

I'd love to hear if it works for anyone - even if you try it for yourself!

14 comments:

Robin said...

I like this kind of thing, Tish. I'm going to tell the kids about it, too. Even if they laugh now, they may use it later. You can't have too many tools, and the "imagine them in their underwear" scenario doesn't always cut it. I'm modeling my anxiety critter after a hot pink stretchy ball we have around the house. Poor thing has its work cut out for it.

ragdoll said...

I just did this now -- and am already finding it to be helpful.

Tish Cohen said...

Robin - hot pink stretchy ball - yeah. Just work in a face and a three-pronged tail and you're all set.

ragdoll - tell us what your creature looks like! :)

James Goodman, Author said...

That is a great idea, Tish. I'll have to pass it along to my son.

My critter is black, long and round. It has a rough texuture and is hanging from a hook by chains. It's face is in the middle and it strangely resembles the letters: TKO. :D

Tish Cohen said...

James - why does it not surprise me that yours hangs by chains, Mr. Horror Guy? :)

James Goodman, Author said...

lol, yep, it was a safe bet that my take on anything would be a bit... twisted. :D

Tish Cohen said...

James - Strangely enough, being able to depend on little things like that reduces my fears.

Danielle Younge-Ullman said...

I've done a version of this when I'm anxious, though I wasn't thinking of it as an exercise, exactly. I've always kind of imagined my fears sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear like some kind of bird with nasty claws. I imagine myself speaking calmly with "it" until the claws disengage and then carefully lifting it off and putting it down.

Now I'll work on a corner of the house to send it too.

My daughter 2--happy and healthy so far, but there will always be scary things so I will remember this technique.

BTW, I love your Canadian cover--you're got two amazing covers now.

Happy blogging!

hi mik1986 said...

Social anxiety disorder can either be temporary or permanent, or somewhere in between. It is a condition
whereby the sufferer feels extremely afraid especially in the social situations. The only way to make sure you do or do not have social anxiety disorder is to get a thorough examination via a specialist in the said field..http://www.buy-xanax-online-now.com

herhtdm said...

Xanax is known throughout as an effective minor tranquilizer and the use of xanax tranquilizers or xanax-like tranquilizers, such as Ativan, Klonopin, valium et al in according to the instructions provided by the doctor, can be helpful for you to combat anxiety and panic attacks. Altogether, it is worth mentioning here that the short term use of Xanax and similar other tranquilizers can be soothing but opting for xanax and other tranquilizers for a long term basis can prove to be detrimental for health. http://www.xanax-effects.com /

Kathy R. said...

hello fellas, I just want to emphasize the good work on this blog, has excellent views and a clear vision of what you are looking for.
Generic Viagra

Anonymous said...

I had anxiety before, but I got a lot better now, thanks to www.medsheaven.com I HIGHLY recommend ordering from them, they have a section on their website for anxiety pills and the best part there is no prescription required!!! uc

penis enlargement pills said...

For men who want bigger, harder, longer-lasting erections, there's now VigRX Plus™, a fresh twist on the already popular VigRX™, but designed to further enhance men's sexual functioning with the addition of three exciting new ingredients: Damiana, Tribulus, and Bioperin. Doctor endorsed and rated #1 for results by clients of penis enlargement consumers. rated two penis pills is vimax. if you find about male enhancement this products is the best and proven to work, there products have money-back guarantee in effectiveness and result.

order generic viagra said...

Very nice blog posting.... I appreciated what you have done here. I would like to see you future updates. Thanks...

Regards
Alexa