causes of anxiety

Anxiety is a topic that needs more awareness and understanding. There are currently 40 million adults and 4.4 million children who have anxiety disorders (cdc.gov, 2020). I discuss the definition of anxiety and its various symptoms here.  This article will focus on the causes of anxiety and different anxiety disorders in children and adults.

WHAT CAUSES ANXIETY?

causes of anxiety

It is important to understand that people experience anxiety at various times throughout their lives. However, anxiety becomes problematic when it interferes with a person’s ability to function.

Genetics

There is a genetic factor to anxiety. Just as a person may have a history of cancer in the family, it is possible to inherit anxiety as well.

Learned Anxiety

Children can pick up on the behaviors and feelings of other people. As a result, they may inherit those feelings. For example, if a parent is afraid of dogs and reacts anxiously whenever a dog is present, the child may start feeling anxiety around dogs as well. “Children can pick up anxious behaviors from being around anxious people” (nhs.uk).

Pressure

If a child feels constant pressure to perform a certain way in school or sports, they may develop anxiety. Similarly, if an adult feels constant pressure (e.g., at work or financial), this can trigger anxiety.

School related issues

Bullying and a lack of friends in school may result in anxiety.

Loss

This includes the death of a loved one (person or animal), as well as divorce

Unstable environment

Examples include constant fighting in the home, lack of consistency due to frequent moving, and/or frequently changing schools

Abuse/trauma

This includes neglect, abuse, and/or witnessing or involvement in a traumatic event.

Health

Having a serious illness or injury in an accident can cause anxiety.

Comorbid conditions

“If a child has ADHD and/or autism, they are more likely to have problems with anxiety” (nhs.uk). The misuse or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol may also cause or increase anxiety. Additionally, “people with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder” (Mayo Clinic, 2018).

Unknown

There are simply some people whose personality makes it more likely that they will develop an anxiety disorder. For instance, some people have a higher tolerance to stress. On the contrary, others are more prone to anxiety.

TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS

anxiety disorders in children and adults

There are various anxiety disorders in children and adults.  Additionally, each disorder has different characteristics. This information should give you a fuller understanding of anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When someone talks about having chronic anxiety, this is what they are typically referring to. For instance, children and adults with GAD experience anxiety about a variety of things (e.g., performance in tasks, relationships with others, and daily life situations). As a result, it is anxiety “that is nearly constant and disproportionate to its causes” (additutdemag, 2018).

Social Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia

Intense fear about social situations is the hallmark of social anxiety. This includes avoiding social situations, worrying about an upcoming event, not participating in events, difficulty making friends, and avoiding or extreme discomfort when having conversations. It is important to note “some people might exhibit symptoms in only one type of situation, whereas others might experience multiple symptoms in various social situations” (additudemag.com, 2018).

Panic Disorder

Those with this disorder experience panic attacks and extreme terror that comes about unexpectedly. It is characterized by chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, feeling faint, and dizziness.  A child is diagnosed with panic disorder “if your child suffers at least two unexpected panic or anxiety attacks-which means they come on suddenly and for no reason- followed by at least one month of concern over having another attack, losing control, or ‘going crazy’” (adaa.org, 2015).

Separation Anxiety Disorder

It is part of typical development to feel anxiety when separating from a caregiver between the ages of 18 months-3 years. Additionally, children often feel anxious separating from a caregiver when getting dropped off at a new school or environment.  Separation anxiety disorder mostly presents in children between the ages of 7-9. It is characterized by intense and excessive anxiety about being away from home and/or being separated from a parent or caregiver. This can include anxiety that something is going to happen to their loved one while they are away.  

Selective Mutism

This anxiety disorder is associated with a consistent failure to speak in certain social situations. A person with this disorder will freeze around particular people or events, but will speak freely when not triggered.  “It usually starts in adulthood, and if left untreated, can persist into adulthood. A child or adult with selective mutism does not refuse or choose not to speak at certain times, they’re literally unable to speak” (nhs.uk, 2019).

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder that involves constant thoughts, actions, or impulses that are in intrusive.  As a result, there is a need to perform certain rituals or routines to ease their anxiety. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An extreme fear or anxiety after a traumatic or life-threatening event. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, being hyperalert/hypervigilant, and avoiding situations that are similar/reminders of the event.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

Although this is not an anxiety disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it is closely related to PTSD.  C-PTSD is a result of prolonged or repeated trauma, and it includes the symptoms of PTSD.  As a person who has C-PTSD and chronic anxiety as a result, I feel it is important to include this. I will address C-PTSD and its complexities in a future article.

Specific Phobia

An intense fear of a specific object, thing, or place. Examples include a fear of spiders, heights, or the dark.  A person with a specific phobia tends to avoid the source of their anxiety. “Unlike adults, they [children] do not usually recognize that their fear is irrational” (adaa.org).

When to Get Professional Help

when to get professional help

It is important to see a doctor if you or your child have anxiety that is interfering with any aspect of your life. Additionally, seek professional help if there are any other mental health or physical concerns. It is important to understand that anxiety can worsen without proper treatment.  Please do not assume that things will get better on their own. Being proactive is the best thing you can do for yourself or your child.

understanding anxiety in children and adults

We have all experienced the feeling of anxiousness. However, when does anxiety become a concern? The purpose of this article is to give a fuller understanding of anxiety in children and adults. It is important to clarify the symptoms of anxiety and recognize when anxiety is more than just a normal part of life.

Understanding anxiety versus worrying

Worrying and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but they are different. Worrying is usually more specific (e.g., worrying about getting a good grade on a test), and it often leads to problem solving (e.g., studying). Alternatively, anxiety is more of a general state of being (e.g., I feel anxious because my best isn’t good enough) that triggers a snowball effect.

A good way to decipher between anxiety and worrying is that, “when you worry, you’re typically thinking about an actual event that’s taking place or is going to take place. But when you’re dealing with anxiety, you tend to hyperfocus on events or ideas that your mind creates” (healthline.com, 2018).  Worrying varies in intensity and you feel a sense of control, whereas anxiety is much more difficult to control.

Another important distinction is where worrying and anxiety are felt. Worrying is something that happens only in your mind. Worrying are thoughts that may be negative or about something that can go wrong. Anxiety, on the other hand, “has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body” (NYTimes.com, 2020).

Understanding Anxiety in Children and Adults

anxiety in children

There is such a thing as anxiety that is healthy. It is a means of our brain and body responding to a perceived sense of danger. Therefore, it is a crucial part of our survival instinct. Anxiousness is something that is common and typical in development, especially as children deal with new experiences and situations. The unknown is frightening for many of us, adults as well as children.

However, there is cause for concern when anxiety is frequent and persistent. Anxiety is often hard to recognize in children because of its cognitive component. Often children have a hard time articulating their thoughts and feelings.  As a result, parents are only aware of the child’s physical and negative behaviors.  Additionally, anxiety may overlap with or present as symptoms of learning disabilities or  Attention Deficit Disorders  (anxiety.org).

There is stigma associated with anxiety.  Adults may resist admitting that anxiety is impacting their quality of life. As a result, they don’t seek professional help. This resistance is largely because of the lack of societal understanding about anxiety. Those with anxiety are often told to “suck it up” or “it isn’t a big deal.” This may cause someone who suffers with anxiety to feel intense shame and self-loathing, only exacerbating the problem.

There are a variety of symptoms that may be experienced by both adults and children with anxiety. When there is a greater understanding about anxiety, it allows for support, empathy, and proper treatment.

Physical/Psychosomatic Symptoms of Anxiety in Children and adults

Below is a list of physical signs of anxiety:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness- this includes difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or frequent bad dreams
  • Stomach aches/cramps
  • Frequently using the bathroom (for bowel movements or urination)
  • Nausea
  • Lack/loss of appetite
  • A general sense of feeling unwell
  • Muscle tension or aches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Racing heart/rapid heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness/ jittery
  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained sweating

This list of physical symptoms are things we have all experienced at some point. In other words, if your child complains of a tummy ache, that doesn’t mean your child has an anxiety disorder. That said, it is worth keeping in mind that there may be more going on than meets the eye if your child is complaining of stomach aches regularly or before/during particular situations.

As grownups, we tend to ignore physical symptoms and assume they will go away. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms frequently, it is probably something worth investigating. Our bodies are often sending us messages, if we are willing to listen to them.

Emotional/Behavioral Symptoms of Anxiety in children and adults

emotional symptoms of anxiety

Below are emotional/behavioral signs of anxiety:

  • Anger and irritability– this may present in children as meltdown, tantrums, and disruptive behavior such as aggression. Adults who experience anxiety may exhibit outbursts, fits of anger, agitation, and hostility. Anger is often overlooked as a symptom of anxiety, but feeling overwhelmed with anxiety can trigger those symptoms.
  • Neediness– children may be clingy, not want to leave their parent or caregiver, or are unable to sleep without a loved one. In both adults and children, they may seek constant reassurance, approval, and validation.
  • Avoidance/Lack of Interaction– examples of this may be a child who refuses to go to school or try out for a team. Specific things or events may cause a grownup or child extreme duress and therefore are avoided. In social situations, the person may appear shy, not speak with others, or avoid social situations entirely.
  • Lack of confidence– examples include repeatedly asking for help or demanding that others do things for them, even when capable of doing it correctly. Feeling inferior and inadequate to others may be due to anxiety.
  • Hypervigilance– frequently asks “what if?”, focuses on the negative sides of things, or always perceives a threat of danger. This person can come across as pessimistic or a complainer.
  • Perfectionism– They have high expectations for themselves in every aspect of their lives, whether it is school, a job, sports, responsibilities. It is great when a person strives to do their best, but there is a line between trying your best and demanding perfection from oneself. 
  • Procrastination– avoidance of things that cause anxiety result in procrastination of those things
  • Distracted/difficulty concentrating- this can be misinterpreted as a focusing issue, but it is excessive worrying and fear that is causing the inability to focus.
  • Controlling– may tell others what to say or do as a type of ritual or have persistent impulses (e.g., repetition of a certain behavior)

When It Is Necessary to Seek Professional Help

If you or your child experience anxiety that is excessive and/or interferes with relationships, other aspects of life, or daily functioning, please speak with a doctor or mental health provider. If you or a loved one are experiencing frequent or several physical symptoms, it is also crucial to seek medical attention.  “Physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be easily confused with other medical conditions…” (National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dec. 2017).

Anxiety is manageable with proper help and support. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step. I hope this article brings you one step closer to understanding anxiety and the many ways it can rear its ugly head. Anxiety is something you shouldn’t have to suffer with silently.

raising a self-sufficient child

Most parents say that they hope their children will be happy when they grow up. Although my daughter’s happiness is of utmost importance to me, I believe that there is a greater aspiration for our children; one that comes at a great cost to ourselves.  It is my belief that raising my child to be self-sufficient is the greatest act of unconditional love.

becoming a parent is the greatest identity change 

As parents, we are supporters, advocators, cheerleaders, and advisors. No matter how old our child may be, we worry about them, and we hope we are doing right by them. Every action, every tear, every heartache, every obstacle, and every ailment that our children experience we experience tenfold.

I struggled at the beginning to grasp the enormity of the non-stop, around-the-clock demands of taking care of my daughter. I was exhausted, I had severe physical complications from labor, and despite all the books and classes I took, I was mentally unprepared for motherhood. Despite all of this, I was somehow expected to adjust to the responsibility and commitment of raising a living creature. It was a hard pill to swallow that my life would never, ever be the same now that I was a mother.

My identity changed when I became a parent. I was no longer just Randi. Now, I was someone’s mom. I learned to love in a way that was greater than I ever imagined possible. I also learned the heartbreak and worry that comes along with that kind of love. Every night I will go to sleep praying and second-guessing the choices I make about my daughter. My decisions impact her life, and the weight of that pressure is sometimes overwhelming.  

The importance of raising a self-sufficient child 

self-sufficient child

This is where life’s greatest dichotomy comes into play. Our children are our priority. It is our job to love them unconditionally, to guide them through life’s struggles, and to instill in them values, morals and virtues. Parenting requires selflessness, patience, and devotion. We are needed and depended on in order for our kids to learn and grow. With that said, the true measure of successful parenting is to raise our children to be self-sufficient. It is only then that they can leave the nest and live life as self-sufficient, capable adults.

It is without a doubt the most selfless and agonizing act of all. Our children are the center of our lives, but the time will come when we will no longer be the center of their lives. My daughter, who still looks for me every time she hurts herself, who calls out my name if she has a bad dream, who confides in me about her hopes and her fears, will one day have a family of her own. I know that as much as my daughter needs me now, it is necessary to teach her to be her own supporter, cheerleader, tear wiper, and friend. We must love our children enough to teach them to be independent and self-reliant. It is the greatest act of unconditional love to teach them to depend on themselves rather than us.

teaching our children to handle the challenges of life is an act of unconditional love

act of unconditional love

Sure, even when our children are grown, we will always worry about them.  We will always love them unconditionally. No matter their age, we will still care and worry. They are adults, but they will always be our children. They will still love and need us, but our roles will no longer be the same.

Happiness is something we want for our children. However, I think happiness comes with believing and loving yourself. Therefore, I counter that sentiment with another goal, a far greater necessity for our children. I think the biggest accomplishment of any parent is that their child is self-sufficient and able to handle life’s challenges. Like many things in life, what is best is also what is the most difficult and painful. It is a goal that speaks to the true testament of any parent. Our act of unconditional love is letting go.

As my daughter navigates through life, I will be there alongside her. She will know that I am always there with open arms and an open heart. However, truly loving her means teaching her to love and depend on herself. Therefore, I will keep instilling in her the importance of picking herself up, dusting herself off, and putting one foot in front of the other.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley

social media conundrum

I vaguely remember the days when there was no social media. It seems like it was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Truthfully, there was once a time when we weren’t all glued to our cell phones, tablets, iPhones, or computers.

the power of connection with social media

In some ways, social media is great. It is a means of reconnecting with people with whom you’ve lost touch. It is also a way of connecting with someone you wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise.

I have been able to speak with relatives I didn’t even know existed through Facebook. I’ve been able to see family pictures of people I knew 30+ years ago. No matter where you live, or how many times you’ve moved, social media allows you to remain in the lives of people. This is more crucial than ever due to the inability to connect in person because of the pandemic. 

Social media also offers opportunities to network and market yourself. LinkedIn and Twitter are great forums for connecting with people and expanding career horizons. Social media is instrumental for every blogger.  However, with every click on the internet, there is a downside. 

the downside of social media obsession

social media obsession

What was meant as a forum to reach out to the ones we love, now has become a means of comparison. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that others have their lives together because of what we see on people’s accounts.

Every click of a button shows smiling families, exotic trips, and expensive merchandise. It is impossible to turn away from the happiness and joy that explodes from the profiles of each person. Social media has become a forum for perfection that makes the rest of us feel empty and lacking.

People spend countless hours scrolling through social media to the point where it has become an obsession. Men, women, teenagers, even children have accounts. They spend their time looking at other people’s lives instead of living their own. As much as we try to love and guide our children, one look at social media makes us feel like we are lacking as parents.

We live in a world filled with fear, anxiety, and isolation due to the pandemic. Now, more than ever, it is easy to look at our lives and feel loneliness and despair. There has never been a more imperative time to find means of connection. Unfortunately, the internet often makes the walls between us even higher.

People who are already struggling with depression and financial concerns fall into the trap of social media. Many rely on it as an escape from reality, but once on it we forget that it is an illusion. Social media often becomes a painful reminder of what we are trying to escape from in the first place. We fall down the rabbit hole of further pain and self-loathing instead of recognizing that Instagram and Facebook are mere glimpses of reality.

the dangers that lurk on the internet

internet dangers

Another danger is catfishing. It has become such a phenomenon that there is a movie and TV series about it. People start relationships on social media, only to realize that they are not talking to the person whose picture is on the profile. Sadly, a person can simply create an account, put up a fake picture, and claim to be anyone in the world.

Stalking has taken on a new shape due to social media. The personal details we reveal make us easy targets, allowing others to fixate on us and invade every aspect of our life. Social media has also become a vehicle for harassment and postings meant to destroy people’s characters and reputations.

Even worse, social media has become another platform to engage in acts of bullying. There is nowhere to escape when people can attack you within the four walls of your room. Kids now feel a sense of power and protection from behind a computer screen. It has become far too easy to belittle, attack, tease, degrade, and destroy through the internet.

the blurred walls of safety for children

As parents, we do our best to protect our children from the outside world, but what do we do when the walls between the outside and inside start to blur? What happens when social media becomes the gateway to danger?

Just as internet bullying has become a harsh reality, a whole new world exists where predators are able to access our children while in the comfort of their homes. What appears to be a sweet 13-year-old girl talking to your daughter may be a 45-year-old man.  There is literally nowhere that is safe anymore.

I do not allow others to post pictures of my daughter on their social media accounts. There also aren’t any pictures of Brielle on my blog.  I try to keep my child safe, but social media makes it harder than ever to do so.

As much as I appreciate the benefits of social media, there are tremendous risks that it poses to our mental health and safety.  I think we must be mindful of the great dangers that comes from simply putting a profile on social media.  Therefore, I believe that social media is both a friend and a foe.

new holiday traditions

The pandemic has changed the dynamic of the holidays and holiday traditions this year. There are many who are struggling financially and cannot afford gifts. There are those who are grieving over the loss of loved ones. Many are saddened by the lack of being around family and friends who are usually with them to celebrate. Whatever your set of circumstances, I want to share some traditions that I have incorporated during the last few years.

the power of giving and receiving 

I remember the first time Brielle was old enough to appreciate presents. We celebrate Chanukah, which means 8 days and nights of celebrating. In our case, we gave gifts to Brielle for each of those nights. The first few nights Brielle was visibly grateful for her new gifts. By the last few nights, she basically had her hand out expecting to receive something.  After the holiday ended, Brielle continued to ask for gifts. She thought the new holiday tradition was getting nightly presents. My husband and I were saddened that what she had taken away from the holiday was expecting gifts instead of appreciating the ones she was fortunate enough to get.

We decided giving large amounts of gifts was not the way to go. We wanted her to appreciate what she has and recognize that there are others who are not as fortunate.  It was important for us to instill in her that there was more to the holidays than getting materialistic things.

The following year, we implemented a holiday tradition of four days of giving and four days of receiving. That meant that of the 8 nights of Chanukah, she would get something for four of them.  The other four nights were about giving back and coming up with ways to show support for others. If you celebrate Christmas and do gift giving on Christmas Day, you can still have your kids give back as part of their holiday celebration.

places to give back

Some of the things Brielle has done over the years to give include: making cards and cookies for our local firehouse, volunteering at an animal shelter, donating toys and items to Goodwill, writing letters to people who work at hospitals to thank them, donating food at homeless shelters, and putting together packages of toiletry items for the homeless.

This year she was unable to volunteer anywhere because of COVID, but Brielle sent out letters and cards to various hospitals, assisted living and nursing homes, and to our fire department.  She also sent out a get well soon card to a teacher. She felt good knowing that she was bringing joy to others, and she valued the presents she received.

creating cherished holiday traditions

holiday traditions

Another holiday tradition we started incorporating was prioritizing making memories. I know that memories might have involved other people in past years, but memories can still be made. I notice that when I ask Brielle what she liked most or what stood out most to her, she will talk about the times we spend together.

Past memories included taking a road trip to NY while stopping at a hotel in Virginia to spend the night, going ice skating, and taking mini-vacations. Although we can’t have the same experiences this year, there are COVID friendly memories that can be created with your children.

An experience Brielle really enjoyed this Chanukah was watching “The Family Man” in matching pajamas while eating popcorn. Snuggling together in front of the TV was a great memory, and one that I think she will remember far more than any gift.

I also let her pick a dessert (she picked cookies) and we baked them together in our aprons. She made a mess, but she was so proud of herself when the cookies were ready. We also drank hot cocoa in front of the fire and sang Chanukah songs. Another thing Brielle loved was hours of playing dreidel (it is a spinning top). We play using pennies and depending on what side it lands on will determine if you give money, get all the money, get half the money, or everyone puts in money. We also played a TON of board games.

gifts can create memories also

gifts create memories too

The gifts we gave Brielle this year also involved creating memories. She received a jewelry box that she decorated herself using stickers and play dough. She designed in advance which color she would put on each side, which stickers she’d use, and what designs she’s use.  I made some of it with her, and we spend the whole time laughing and enjoying our time together. I also got her a rock painting kit, which had stickers on it that were kindness stickers. She painted them and put them on people’s mailboxes and by their yards. It was a very special activity.

Another memory that we create on the holidays is a scavenger hunt. I write short little clues (Dryer-I go here when I’m wet, I spin round and round, located in the laundry room is where I am found), and Brielle goes around the house collecting the clues. When she finishes she then gets a present. Brielle loves the scavenger hunts so much that the present is secondary.

I hope that when Brielle grows up, she will remember the holiday traditions and times we spent together.  Presents will come and go, but it is the time we spend with our children and the values that we instill in them that truly matters.

how to teach emotional regulation

Let’s be honest. Controlling our emotions is no easy task. With the chaos surrounding us due to the pandemic, our sense of normalcy and stability have gone out the window. We find it hard to manage our feelings due to the upheaval of our lives, so how can we expect our children to have emotional regulation? 

ZONES OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION

This is where the Zones of Emotional Regulation comes in. I cannot take credit for this; it was invented by Leah M. Kuypers. There is a book and applications designed to help children label and manage their emotions. If you’d like more information about those resources, you can go to here

The purpose of this article is to share what I successfully implemented with my daughter. I hope that this gives you and your child support and structure, which we all need now more than ever. Although this is great for anyone, it is particularly helpful for kids with special needs, young children, and/or anxious children. I learned about Zones of Regulation when my daughter was getting Occupational Therapy for her sensory issues. 

FOUR EMOTIONAL REGULATION ZONES

emotional regulation

The Zones of Emotional Regulation are comprised of four zones, each demonstrating a different level of emotions. Click here to download the Zones of Regulation Visual and other handouts. There is a blue zone, green zone, yellow zone, and red zone. You can print out the handout as is, which display the colors, or you can print it without color and have your child color it in themselves.  

The blue zone represents low energy, which can occur for a myriad of reasons. Someone who is in the blue zone may feel sad, sick, tired, or bored. The green zone is similar to a green traffic light; the person is okay to go. When you are calm, happy, focused and relaxed you are in the green zone. Yellow zone indicates to proceed with caution, just as a yellow traffic light does. If you are frustrated, excited, anxious, or starting to lose control, you are in the yellow zone. Lastly, red zone means to stop. This is when feelings are extreme and/or out of control. Yelling, angry, scared, and other intense emotions occur in the red zone. 

HOW I INTRODUCED THE ZONES OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION TO MY DAUGHTER

I introduced the zones to my daughter by going over with her what each zone meant and what each associated feeling meant. It is also necessary to discuss and brainstorm with your child what strategies can be implemented when in the blue, yellow or red zone. Your child can write a list of what to do in those situations, draw pictures, or you can look up images and your child can cut them out and glue them onto a piece of paper.  

Strategies my daughter uses when in the yellow and red zone include hugs, talking with me, drawing pictures, singing songs, dancing, jumping up and down, squeezing stress balls, reading, listening to music, and doing belly breathing (filling belly up with air when inhale, and slowly letting air out of stomach when exhale). The tools your child needs to manage their emotions will vary based on the child, the emotions, and the circumstances. 

When I began this with Brielle, it took some time for her to get used to the idea of colored zones. Due to her sensory issues, impulsivity, and poor emotional regulation due to her ADHD, she acts first without thinking about the emotions behind her actions. I modeled my own zones, feelings, and tools to help her learn this new way of managing emotions. For example, if I felt angry, I told her that I was in the red zone because I was feeling angry, and I needed to listen to some music to calm down. 

REMIND YOUR CHILD TO BE AWARE OF THEIR EMOTIONS

emotional awareness

It is important to use “I” messages during your discussions. Examples include I feel” and “I need this tool” when speaking about the zones. 

I also asked my daughter what zone she was in if she didn’t bring it up herself. I encouraged her to be aware of her emotions and what she needed to regulate them so she could be in the green zone. With time and consistency, she got better at independently labeling what zone she was in, and then with repetition she was able to name the emotion that accompanied the zone.  

Initially, she was reminded to select tools to help her with this process. I created a “calming corner” in her room with things she pre-selected to help her feel better. Her calming corner included a bean bag chair, a weighted blanket, squeezing toys, and books. She was encouraged to go to the calming corner if she felt that would help, but there were times she wanted to do something else. I praised her for taking the initiative to select what tool would be best for her in the moment.  

USE THE ZONES OF REGULATION YOURSELF TO MODEL BEHAVIOR FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Remember that your children will model what they see. Try to keep your emotions in check, and label what zone you are in and what strategies you are using. It is unrealistic to think you can be calm and collected all the time, so be open about how you are feeling and what helps you to regulate your emotions. You are setting a great example for your kid and you are also taking the time to recognize and prioritize your feelings. It’s a win-win! 

Make several copies of the Zones of Emotional Regulation and the strategies you’ve discussed with your child. Put them throughout the house where they are easy to access. 

HELPING YOUR CHILD UNDERSTAND EMOTIONAL REGULATION

helping children understand emotional regulation

Another thing I implemented with my daughter along with emotional regulation is discussing whether she had a little problem, medium problem, or big problem. Brielle would react to any situation with the same ferocity. It was important for me to help her put things in perspective. A little problem is something that only impacts you and is easy to solve or can go away on its own. A medium problem involves some people and can be resolved in a matter of hours or a few days. A big problem is something that impacts many people and takes a long time to get resolved. 

Your child getting a paper cut is an example of a little problem. That said, don’t tell that to my daughter. She held up her middle finger in the backseat of the car the entire car ride because she had a paper cut on that finger. She refused to put her finger down. Yes, I got some stares from other people. A story for another time. 

A medium problem is getting locked out of your car and having to wait for AAA to come to your rescue. Annoying and frustrating (yellow zone!), but not a major problem in the scheme of things. 

A big problem is COVID-19. Sadly, I think that example explains itself. 

Remember to ask for your child’s zone when an opportunity arises. Another good idea is setting reminders in advance to discuss everyone’s zones at set intervals throughout the day.  

For example, if your child is in the red zone because he knocked over his blocks, acknowledge the zone if your child doesn’t do so on his own. Once your child has used his calming tools, ask if the problem was an example of a big, medium or little problem. I know that when my daughter is in the red zone, logic isn’t going to work with her. Once she has calmed down, she is more receptive to having a conversation about the significance of her problem.  

SUPPORT AND UNDERSTAND YOUR CHILD’S FEELINGS

how you feel

Keep in mind that even though some of your child’s concerns and struggles are not a big deal to us, it often feels like a catastrophe to them. Try to support their feelings and understand them, while teaching and modeling a new way to think about situations. 

My daughter became so good at discussing zones and emotions that she now points out other people’s zones and emotions. There is nothing better than trying to explain an assignment to your child for the 4th time and having her say, “You look like you are in the red zone, Mommy. I think you’re going to explode. Do you need to use my calming corner?” How well the student has become the teacher. Sigh. 

Structure, consistency, and supporting one another’s feelings is always necessary, but especially when living through a pandemic. With many kids using distant learning or homeschooling, these tools are a great way to teach emotional regulation, awareness, and support your child’s (and your own!) emotional and social well-being.  

being bullied and the lessons i learned

my middle school discomfort

Middle school is not a time of my life that you could pay me to revisit. I think most adults would agree that those years are tough. Your bodies are changing, your hormones are wild, and you are starting to have a grown-up body while still having a child mind.  The potential for being bullied is extremely high.

Junior high school was particularly hard for me for a myriad of reasons. I was unhappy with who I was as a person, I didn’t have anyone I could turn to for support and comfort, and I felt no sense of safety. I felt hopeless, unloved, and felt very much alone. Although I was a bright girl and got accepted into a school for gifted kids based on my IQ and writing ability, I had absolutely no self-confidence.

my friend, the bully

say not to bullying

In truth, there were many kids in that school who were sweet and probably looking for a friend too. I had classmates whom I could (and should) have chosen to surround myself with. Instead, I gravitated towards a girl who did not treat me the way one treats a friend. She appeared confident, but in hindsight I think she lacked confidence as well. Just as moms will shame other moms to feel better about themselves, she verbally bullied me to feel better about herself.

She was friends with another girl as well, and the two of them would laugh together while she poked fun at me. One day I was told she didn’t like my bow and it was babyish. Another time I was ridiculed that I reminded her of Minnie Mouse because of my high voice. You name it, she teased at me about it. Whether it was the way I wore my eyeshadow (honestly, I still don’t think I wear it properly) or the clothes I wore, she never ceased an opportunity to tease me. 

In a nutshell, I was bullied by a girl who claimed she was my friend. Now this was in the 90s, when bullying was in a completely different form. This was long before the world of cyber bullying, where kids could taunt you behind the protection of a computer screen. No, this was the old-fashioned way; up close, personal, and fully standing by the words she chose to throw my way. 

being bullied by myself

don't be a bully it starts with me

Victims of verbal bullying are usually told to not give the bully any power. The advice given is to tell a teacher or ignore them because bullies are typically cowards. I was in a different situation. I had two bullies: this girl and myself.

My “friend” might have said hurtful things, but I did nothing to stop it. This is not a situation where I was powerless. She also was not hurting me physically. She used the power of her words to inflict pain upon me, and I chose to say and do nothing. I never once told her that I wouldn’t associate with her if she made those kinds of comments. When she laughed at me, I never walked away. In fact, I never even told her that her words bothered me. Instead, I often laughed it off. She might have been the one throwing the dagger, but I was the one stabbing it into my own heart.

why i didn’t walk away from being bullied

Looking back, I didn’t say anything for many reasons. For one, I had a complete lack of confidence in myself. My self-esteem was so low that I felt I deserved it. I didn’t believe that I should have someone in my life who valued my feelings and treated me well. I was already being abused for years by this point, and in some messed up way, being treated badly was my normal. It was all I knew, and all I believed I should know. It’s why I picked her in the first place. She reinforced my belief that I was not worthy or enough. In my mind, there must have been something wrong with me to be abused by my mother. Therefore, why shouldn’t this girl treat me badly as well?

Another reason I stuck around was because I convinced myself on some level that she was my friend. As I’ve mentioned before, what is even harder than being abused is admitting to yourself that you are being abused. The same applied here. I wanted to believe that this girl really was my friend, and that her actions were somehow justified.

Lastly, I was terrified of standing up to her and having nobody. I would rather associate with someone who was teasing me than be by myself.  Nothing was worse than feeling that. It didn’t occur to me that the moment I accepted that kind of treatment from her, I was alone.

I remember the last day of junior high school. I asked a few people to sign my yearbook, and she was one of them.  She actually wrote me a nice message that she hoped we’d always be friends. I then wandered around the hallways; I had nobody else to talk to and nobody asked me to sign their yearbooks. My confidence was non-existent, and I felt completely and utterly alone. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believed I didn’t deserve to have anyone, and that is exactly what I got. I spent three years at a school, and I left without a single true friend.

Insecurity Can be Felt at any Age and No Relationship Should Tolerate Bullying

insecurities are felt at any age

I don’t want you to think badly of this girl. In fact, we are friends on Facebook, and she occasionally likes my posts. I hold no ill will towards her whatsoever, not because I’m in denial, but because I think she was lost too.  I think she was a child who had her own struggles and made poor choices. Should she have teased me? No. However, if I didn’t speak up and show respect for myself, then how can I expect her to respect me?

There is a bigger lesson to this story then the teasing of a young, incredibly insecure girl. Those who lack confidence can be people of all ages.   We will all at some point inevitably have an encounter with someone who will say things at our expense. These people can be co-workers, romantic partners, friends, and even family. The same insecurities that prevented me from speaking up as a child prevents others from doing the same, regardless of age or relationship.

Some things cannot be prevented. I am not speaking of those situations where victims are truly powerless. There are some tragedies in life that confidence and assertiveness will not deter.

How We Stop Bullying Ourselves

When someone mistreats you, teases you, or says something that makes you feel badly about yourself, you have a choice. You can choose to allow those words to hammer away at your self-respect bit by bit, or you can choose yourself.

I don’t know what would have happened if I would have spoken up and said that her teasing was hurtful. I don’t know what she would have said, but I know I would have felt empowered. It took me many years to get to a place where I could defend myself. Today I have so much compassion for that little girl. I know that I simply didn’t have it within me to set those boundaries and believe that I deserved better. I cry for that little girl quite often because I know now how worthy she was and how unfair life was to her. In turn, I also know how cruel she was to herself.

I share this story not to elicit sympathy. I spill these sad words onto the page in hopes that someone who reads this will recognize that love and kindness are the most precious gifts you can give someone. They can save someone else, and they can save yourself. Give your children one more hug and remind them that you love them. Remember to be kind to yourself. Reach out to a friend and let them know you care. Boost confidence instead of tearing it down.

We cannot change how people treat one another, and there is much cruelty in this world.  However, if we can love wholeheartedly and remind those we love that they are worthy and deserve better, perhaps they will start to believe that for themselves. 

Our obligation to Speak Up

We also need to be cognizant that if we are being mistreated, it does not matter who the person is on the other side. We have an obligation to speak up. If we cannot do so for ourselves, we must do so for our children. Otherwise, we are sending the message to our children that they can treat others that way, and in turn, others can treat them that way. For the sakes of our children, it must stop with us.

My daughter was taught from a young age that teasing others and allowing others to tease you is never okay. She knows bullying comes in many forms, and that they all are painful.  I try to instill in her that she should treat herself and others with respect

I pray that she feels the love and safety that I didn’t feel as a child. If the day ever comes where she is bullied or disrespected, I hope she will have the courage and confidence to do what I wasn’t able to do.

 

parenting a child with adhd and spd

“Parents who have children with special needs, also have special needs. They need to know more than the average parent. Need to do more than the average parent. They need more patience than the average parent, and so much more.” (Parents Supporting Parents).

Imagine this scene: You are shopping at a grocery store, and you see someone nearby (pre-COVID, of course). That person watches your daughter touch various items in the aisle. You try to stop your child, and remind her that she can look, but cannot touch. As you push your cart, your daughter starts running ahead even though you tell her to hold your hand. The person who is watching then shakes their head and mutters something about a wild child.

parenting my child with adhd and spd

This scenario is not at all shocking for a parent of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The constant struggle to support our children is something that is an everyday part of our lives. Even worse, surveyors assume our children are spoiled and not properly parented. This makes us feel shame, not only because we feel we are failing as parents, but because our children are being judged.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss strategies, although I’ve used many, which you can find here and here. On behalf of every parent who has a child with special needs, I am giving a glimpse into my experiences with my child who has ADHD and SPD. It is important to remember that “No two kids with ADHD are exactly alike. Their symptoms can vary in type and severity… ADHD isn’t an all-or-nothing thing.” (understood.org).

My hope is that sharing some of my obstacles will make other moms feel less alone and judged by others. Knowledge is the foundation for awareness and advocacy. My aspiration is that we spread awareness to those who do not understand these challenges.

challenges and obstacles

challenges and obstacles

One of the biggest challenges I face is my child’s lack of impulse control. Brielle needs constant monitoring. She has hurt herself several times because she runs down the stairs. Also, Brielle jumps off couches, is unable to take a shower by herself because she tries to jump and run in it, and throws herself backwards in chairs. She already fell backwards twice, but fortunately wasn’t hurt (although I aged ten years each time). Many times she went down the stairs at night and jump on the countertops. I continue to have a baby gate at the top of the stairs for my 8-year-old daughter. Whereas other children would learn from these painful mistakes, Brielle continues to put herself in danger.

Emotional regulation for Brielle is also a huge obstacle. She perseverates on things that cause her to worry and feel sad. Using emotional regulation tools is very helpful, but she still fixates on things and needs extra support to process her feelings and move past them. “Kids with ADHD don’t have the same capacity to manage their emotions. If they don’t have it, how do you expect them to do it? How do you expect them to respond to what you’re asking them to do? It’s like they can’t win.” (Dr. Dawn K. Brown, MD, ADHD Wellness Center).

As I illustrated in my earlier scenario, taking Brielle with me on errands is a recipe for disaster. She is overly stimulated by all the things in the store and wants to touch everything. Due to her short attention span, she gets very frustrated when having to stay next to me and walk calmly. I only bring her for quick errands while providing redirection and encouragement. If my errand requires me to talk to a cashier or salesperson, Brielle will get restless and try to run around.

my child with adhd has endless energy and craves sensory stimulation

sensory stimulation

Brielle plays outside every day as an outlet for all her energy. However, when playing in the yard, she runs up the driveway towards the street despite my consistent reminders. She tries to take her scooter and sit on it instead of standing. She’s fallen down the driveway on multiple occasions.

Brielle craves sensory stimulation. She is always seeking out “more.” I am fearful at parks because she climbs up objects without looking where she is putting her feet. She jumps off of high places (I will never forget the time I had to catch her when she walked off a beam midair), and runs around without looking to see if any object can hit her. As a result, I can’t sit at a park and relax. It is imperative that I am hyper alert everywhere. Looking away for a few seconds is the difference between safety and disaster.

From morning until night, Brielle is always on the go. That means that from the moment she wakes up, she is immediately energized. She goes from 0 to 100. No matter my exhaustion or mood, I have to be alert. There is simply no laying low with her.

lack of impulse control and independent play

independent play

Everyday Brielle loses her stuff because she is always on the go. She doesn’t remember where she puts her things, so keeping her stuff organized is a must. When she had dance class, there was always at least one item missing. As a result, I had to go on a scavenger hunt with her to find her shoes, her leotard, or her tights. Teachers needed to assist her in making sure that her folders and materials were packed in her bookbag. There were two occasions where she brought her folders back to school and proceeded to misplace them. They were lost for two months.

Brielle rushes through activities and moves on to something else very quickly. She needs numerous reminders to stop before jumping to another activity. She will leave books on the floor, clothes on the bed, and toys all over unless she is redirected.

Playing independently is a huge challenge for her because using her imagination requires higher level thinking. She has difficulty coming up with safe ways of playing independently due to her sensory issues and impulsivity. I limit her choices to only a few items when she does “quiet time,” and I check in on her regularly. If I don’t check on her, she does things such as jumping into the tub and turning on the water, spilling water all over the floor, and/or going into closets and taking things out.

Due to her lack of impulse control, she will interrupt and tap me when I am in the middle of something. I cannot look at my emails, talk on the phone, or have a conversation without Brielle trying to get my attention or get into something if I am preoccupied.

Boredom in a child with ADHD and SPD equals trouble. She has gone into my room and looked inside my drawers, in my closets, and through my jewelry. There have been many incidences where she accidentally shattered hung pictures on walls and items on floors because she is running around. I give verbal and visual prompts that she needs to wait for her turn, but this is something she struggles with daily. What may appear to others as being demanding or a troublemaker is actually a child who struggles with delayed gratification. Brielle always acts before she thinks.

inattention and executive functioning

Brielle has difficulty focusing and learning, as well as executive functioning issues. She has an IEP because she needs constant redirection, individualized instruction, and the use of multiple prompts to learn new information. There are times when she is unable to grasp new material because of her processing issues and poor memory. She has a different learning style than others, but that does not mean she can’t learn.

Brielle has difficulty sleeping because of her sensory issues with her bladder. She either doesn’t register that she has to go to the bathroom (and by the time she realizes it she is ready to burst) or she uses the bathroom every few minutes because she is overly sensitive to the sensation.

Brielle’s body doesn’t register exhaustion like other kids, so she becomes hyperactive (more than usual) when she gets overtired. She also has difficulty falling asleep because her body and mind won’t quiet down. As Sarah Young explained, “Living with ADHD is like being locked in a room with 100 televisions and 100 radios all playing. None of them have power buttons so you can turn them off and the door is locked from the outside.”

 

 

childs advocate

As I discussed in 6 Strategies and Tips for Parenting a Special Needs Child, Parenting Strategies and Tips to Help Children with ADHD and Ways to Help Children with ADHD Succeed in School and at Home, there are many ways of supporting kids with special needs, and Brielle has made huge strides. She is not defined by her ADHD and SPD; rather, she is a smart, funny, sweet, loving, sensitive girl who has ADHD and SPD.

“No mom who is actively trying to understand what their child is going through should ever feel like they are not doing enough or they are a bad mom. Your child is very lucky to be loved so unconditionally by you. Some day they will look back and say, ‘I got here because of you.’” (ourADHDstory.com).
 
We are our children’s biggest supporters and greatest advocates. Wear that honor with pride and hold your head up high. Remember that your kids are lucky to have a parent who tries as hard as you do.
personalized placemat craft

Now that the weather is getting chillier, I wanted to share a fun craft for your kids.

Drumroll please….it’s a personalized placemat!

I LOVE this personalized placemat craft for so many reasons!

1-It can be modified for nearly every age and ability. I first did this project with Brielle when she was two, and at 8 she is still excited to make them (the picture above is her latest one).

2- For those of you that have young kids or kids with a limited attention span, you know you’ve hit the craft jackpot when your child actually WANTS to focus on an activity for more than five minutes. It’s like a breath of fresh air to see your child eagerly working on something!

3- It is SO easy to do. Your can put more or less detail into it based on your child’s preference, but the basic directions are super simple to follow.

4- It is something they/you can keep for years to come (just make sure to clean it regularly), and it is a wonderful gift for grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

I can continue to ramble about why this art project is a favorite of mine, or I can cut to the chase and start explaining it! Without further ado, here is what you will need to make your personalized placemat:

Materials

1- Clear contact paper

2- Construction paper

3- Scissors

4- Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and/or paints

5- Stickers (optional)

6- Glitter (optional)

7- Wasabi tape (optional)

8- Buttons, confetti paper, or anything small and relatively flat that your child would like to include

9- Fake maple leaves (optional)

10- Fake snowflakes (optional)

11- Fake flowers (optional)

12- Glue or tape

Most of the materials are optional, which is fantastic because you can basically use whatever craft supplies you have around your house!

The first few times my daughter made her personalized placemat, she only used leaves and stickers. This time she decided to use snowflakes, leaves, and flowers to represent all the seasons. Of course, the placemats don’t have to have any seasonal theme at all. It is completely up to your kids and their imaginations!

directions to make a personalized placemat

1- Cut two pieces of contact paper per placement. It can be cut based on whatever size your kids prefer, but ours is 11×18 inches.

2- Unpeel one sheet of paper, and leave the sticky side up. This will be where you stick your materials.

3- Modify the project based on age and ability. If they are too small to use scissors, they can rip construction paper or confetti tissue paper into pieces and scatter it across the contact paper. Another option is you can cut shapes for them, and they can decide where to place it. There is no right and wrong way to do this. It is whatever works best for your child!

4- Your child can scribble, color, paint, write or design the cut-outs. They can use stickers or any item of their choosing as well.

Here are some shapes and decorations she used when she was younger:

Below are some of the designs she used for the placemat she made a few weeks ago. She decided to use flowers, leaves (cut outs and fake), and snowflakes (I drew the snowflake, and she colored it in). Some she painted and others she colored in with crayons.

5- Once your child finishes designing and picking items, it’s time to decide where to place them. Let your child spread them around the contact paper.

Brielle designed and spread these out when she was younger, and she asked me to write her name on one of the leaves so this would be her designated placemat:

7- Unpeel the second piece of contact paper and place the sticky side on top of the objects so that the objects are enclosed on both sides by the sticky part of the contact paper.

8- If necessary, trim the edges to make sure both sides are even.

9- Measure the wasabi tape so it goes around each of the edges to adhere them .

Another option is to glue or tape the edges to ensure they don’t unravel with time.

That’s it! Let your kid take a step back and admire their handiwork!

It’s the simple projects that are the most fun for the kids AND the parents! I love that this is something Brielle can mostly do on her own, with minimal input from me (I trim the edges and the wasabi tape).

She can take pride in knowing that she decided what to use, as well as the design and placement. It gives her a huge sense of accomplishment that she is responsible for the final result!

I can’t wait for your kids to design them. I would love to see your personalized placemats. Post and tag me on Instagram @survivingmomblog with the hashtag #survivingmomblogcraft.

I hope your kids enjoy this personalized placemat craft for years to come!

Self-confidence is something we all want to build and something many of us are lacking. It isn’t surprising that we lack confidence as adults. Many of us were told as children that our best was not enough. Others didn’t get any motivation or encouragement to step out of their comfort zone or try something that was challenging. What was once our parents’ voices soon turned into our inner voice/critic. As a result, the story we believe as adults is that we aren’t good enough. The good news is that there are strategies to build self-confidence in yourself and your children.

my struggles with self-confidence

I grew up with a mom that expected perfection. When I was 5 years old, I had a small writing assignment for school. I was extremely proud of what I wrote and showed it to my mother. Her response was to rip it into pieces and instruct me to write it again. That experience rattled me and will forever be imprinted in my mind. The lesson I learned was that I should feel intense shame if my best wasn’t perfection.

My struggle with perfection crept into every facet of my life. In first grade there was a competition that whoever read the most books by the end of the month would get a box of crayons. I was determined to be the winner. So was another girl in the class. Eventually other classmates stopped participating in this contest, but neither me nor this girl would relent. Finally, the teacher stopped the contest and declared that we both were the winners.

I defined myself and my value based on how well I did in school. I would beat myself up over any mistake I made. In my mind, nothing other than an A was an option. Eventually my mother told me that I didn’t have to get top grades as long as I was trying. By this point her words rang on deaf ears; the bell could not be unrung. I was terrified of not getting the top grades in exams, was ridden with anxiety every time I had to write a report or do a presentation, and always agonized that I wasn’t good enough despite the number of times that was proven to be untrue.

Shame, not self-confidence, became my constant companion. I feared everything because I didn’t believe that trying was what was most important. In my mind, if the result was unsuccessful, the effort was worthless.

the inner critic that creates guilt and shame

ways to challenge your inner critic

Regardless of our childhood circumstances, I know that many of you live with that same inner critic. If we try something and it isn’t a success, we beat ourselves up over it rather than feel proud of ourselves for trying. It only reinforces that we shouldn’t put ourselves out there or reaffirms our belief that we are failures.

It is often easier to look at the laundry list of mistakes or flops rather than focus on how hard we tried or the things we did well. This way of thinking starts to take on a life of its own, and eventually we tell ourselves that we are failures instinctually.

When we speak and feel this way about ourselves, is it any wonder that our voice becomes the inner voice of our own children? It is an endless cycle of guilt, shame, and self-contempt. In order to teach our children to have self-confidence, flaws and all, we first have to believe that about ourselves.

What if we changed our inner voice? Told ourselves that we are enough just as we are? Applauded our efforts rather than our successes? What if we recognized that what matters most is putting ourselves out there? What if our determination and resiliency was how we judged ourselves rather than a tally of achievements?

ways to build self-confidence in ourselves

self confidence

Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Stopping and changing the story we have told ourselves constantly isn’t going to magically vanish. Luckily, there are ways of building self-confidence in ourselves and our children:

1- Change your inner dialogue. Our inner voice is determined to rear its ugly head any time we feel guilt or shame. We can counter those thoughts by putting new ones there. Each time that we try something, no matter what the outcome, we need to acknowledge that putting ourselves out there is an accomplishment in of itself. Showing up and trying is something to be proud of. Counter your thoughts of shame with thoughts of recognition for how hard you try.

This way of thinking applies to our children as well. Instead of commending our children for their grades on a test, applaud them when you see they are studying and taking it seriously. Acknowledge the effort, not the result. Success isn’t a guarantee, but it takes great courage to put oneself out there and try. Our children deserve recognition for the journey instead of the destination.

2- Fake it until you make it. This new message that you are telling yourself doesn’t align with the inner critic you’ve lived with for years. It takes time to truly feel what you are now saying. Reaffirm this new way of thinking with mantras such as “I am enough,” “I can do hard things,” and “I am brave,” and say them to yourself and your child. Counter those shameful thoughts with confident ones.

Make a list of these affirmations with your child. Explain that this list is to be used daily and when we feel badly about ourselves or are afraid to try. Let your children see that you are using this list and encourage them to use it as well.

3- Don’t give up. I remind myself and my daughter that no matter how many times we get knocked down, all we can do is keep picking ourselves up. It is inevitable that we will make mistakes. What we do with those mistakes is what matters.

I wrote a children’s book, and the road to getting an agent is far harder than what I anticipated. My daughter has seen me send query letter after query letter. She has asked me why I don’t give up. I told her that some of my greatest accomplishments are the ones I had to work at the most to achieve. My hope is that my daughter sees that what truly matters is perseverance and believing in yourself.

4- Instead of focusing on your failures, make a list of the things you accomplished despite feeling afraid or self-conscious. Ask your child to make a list of things he/she worked hard to achieve. The next time you or your child feel badly about yourself, look at the list of reminders of how brave you are. Remind yourself and your children that it takes great courage to put yourself out there.

stay confident and be your own kind of beautiful

5- We all have strengths and weaknesses. We are human, so we are flawed. It is inevitable that there will always be someone that is able to do something better than us. As a recovering perfectionist, I remind myself and my daughter that all we can strive for is to be the best versions of ourselves. Perfection isn’t the goal, but courage and strength of conviction is everything.

6-  Self-care is necessary to incorporate into our life and our routine. Encourage your children to explore what they enjoy and to devote time to it. Our emotional well-being is the foundation for learning to love ourselves.

7-  Don’t rely on others to validate you and feel proud of you. Feel proud of yourself for trying regardless of what others say and do. Remind yourself and your children that there are people that will try to say and do things to make you feel badly about yourself. It is imperative to be your own supporter and cheerleader.

I remind my daughter often that she is not defined by any labels. She is defined by who she is as a person. That means that she should strive for inner beauty instead of focusing on her appearance. My hope is that she believes in herself as much as I believe in her.

8- Be your own friend. When I feel shame or guilt, I often ask myself what I would say to my friend if the same thing was happening to her. I tend to give others far more support and understanding than I give to myself.

When I notice my daughter is being hard on herself, I ask her what she would say to her friend if that person was in the same situation. I then ask her to say those words to herself. That often helps her to put things into perspective.

Giving kindness and compassion to ourselves is crucial in building self-confidence. We need a gentle reminder that we deserve better than how we are treating ourselves.

 

 

The journey to building self-confidence is a long and difficult one. There will be easier days as well as days that are more challenging. Be mindful of the story you tell yourself and the example you are setting for your children. It is inevitable that we will fall down along the way, but like everything in life, we must pick ourselves up and try again. You are enough. We are enough just as we are.