During our April 16, 2013, Dr. Kendra Klassen visited our Food Allergy Support Group to share some great information on the topic of anxiety. Here is some of the importance information she was able to share with the group.
Helping Your Child Overcome Anxiety (with Food Allergies)
Understanding the Problem
In times of stress, the body will become either over or under aroused. When our body is over aroused (hyper-arousal), we experience many forms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, racing thoughts, or an unexplainable sense of dread.
Help children gain a sense of control by educating them about how the brain and body work.
- Visit www.worrywisekids.org for examples of scripts to use when explaining anxiety to your children.
- Teach kids to recognize the signs of a stressed out body: increased heart rate, sweaty palms, tense muscles and thoughts like, "I need daddy," or, "I can't do it!"
- Distinguish between "tricks" and "truth."
Many things can stress our bodies, all of which have the potential to lead to anxiety (e.g., toxins, allergies, over-stimulation, emotional trauma, etc.). For help finding the source of the problem, consider seeing a counselor or holistic healthcare practitioner.
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
To help our children with their anxiety, we must learn to manage your own.
- Do the following tips and tools along with your children, and use them for yourself. Remember, a calm brain is a flexible brain.
- Remain calm and confident in the heat of the moment to provide your child a secure base. For help, check out the "Calm Authority for Mothers" CD at www.marcyaxness.com.
When you are relaxed, you can more easily soothe your child with eye contact, gentle touch, and soft, reassuring words.
The fastest, surest way to decrease anxiety is to take slow, deep breaths. A rhythmic flow of air going in and out helps calm the body.
- Place your hands over each other's hearts and breathe slowly.
- Use a pinwheel or bubbles to teach your child how to blow gently, keeping it going for as long as possible before taking the next breath.
- Or imagine blowing a feather far out into the distance.
For deep breathing to work, we must practice regularly. Just minutes a day will profoundly influence your ability to stay regulated during a normally stressful situation.
Controlling our thought life is essential in winning the war against anxiety. Practice squashing the "worry bug" with the following techniques:
- Memorize anti-anxiety scriptures as a family
- 2 Tim 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
- Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense he has become my salvation.
- Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
- Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
- Psalm 56:11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid…"
- Have a plan. Explore and practice ways to calm down before the anxiety hits (such as breathing, walking, asking for help, etc.). Ask them what they need to manage difficult situations and rehearse.
- Teach your child to talk back to the fear. Externalize the problem using puppets, figures, etc. to role-play fear and its "boss" (or "superhero," etc.). Being playful and silly helps make hyper-arousal less scary!
As adults, we can help our children overcome anxiety! Never give up. Be patient, empathize with their struggle, encourage them to overcome, and reward their progress!
Dr. Kendra Klassen is a licensed psychologist who received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, California. She has been in practice for over 10 years, specializing in attachment work with children, individuals and families throughout Orange County, and helping people develop more fulfilling and meaningful lives.
With two young children of her own, Dr. Klassen's passion is to help parents, children and their families have healthy relationships with one another. Dr. Kendra Klassen has been working in the field of attachment and bonding since the early 90's. Her experience includes time with orphans in Romania, specialized training under both local and internationally renowned experts in the field, and work with numerous adopted and foster children in both clinical and group home settings.
Dr. Klassen is also trained in Healing Prayer and Neuro-Emotional Technique (www.netmindbody.com), and has experience with natural and alternative healthcare. This makes her a truly holistic practitioner, committed to the healing of the whole person. She has presented for a number of organizations and to general audiences, speaking on the topics of attachment, marriage, parenting, and spirituality. She is a caring mom and proven professional, committed to the advancement of God's redeeming work in the restoration of families. Call now to learn more.
www.FamilyRestorations.com Kendra Klassen, Psy.D. ph. 949-303-8933