Wellness- on this day for peace ๐Ÿ€

To my dear readers ,

It is the 21st of September โ€“ and today is the Spring Equinox for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere in Aotearoa -and todayโ€™s is also celebrated as the International Day of Peace.

So today I choose to write on the topic of anxiety- The experience of anxiety can be unsafe. The intention is to support adults and whanau/ parents of tamariki / children who experience anxiety from a very young age. It is about making a shift towards acceptance of this feeling called anxiety and allowing space for safety , peace and calm.

Dan Siegel โ€“ โ€œWhen we begin to know ourselves in an open and self-supportive way, we take the first step t encourage our children to know themselvesโ€

The topic of anxiety is close to my heartโ€“as a child I vividly remember feeling anxious โ€“ I sensed a certain discomfort โ€“ it was about things going beyond my control or a funny feeling in my stomach along with a raised heartbeat. I felt it more at school than at home โ€“ and in the mahi /work that I do today -I come across similar stories where children/ tamariki feel unsure โ€“ helpless โ€“ scared –  these feelings manifest as avoidance or non-compliance or varying levels of desperation.

I was a bright student and also had a loving family. Despite all of this – I experienced this uncomfortable feeling โ€“and what helped me through my pathway was my training in my chosen field , the books that I have read and the affirming messages that I got from myriads of warm caring and kind hearted humans.

โ€œRelationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human loveโ€ Bruce D Perry

Truth: Anxiety is a universal human emotion โ€“ it is about feeling unsure -the feeling of anxiety stems from the brainstem the lowest part of our brain or the primitive brain. We experience anxiety when the stem of the brain

  • Recognises an element of the unknown or the unpredictable or
  • The memory of an event that has caused discomfort

Educating our children about feelings is an inherent part of emotional literacy. There maybe heaps of variables that impacts on anxiety- it can be genetics or environmental or even chemical imbalance or something else  ; however there is no one fit rule as to who experiences anxiety and who does notโ€ฆ

Things that help on the wayโ€ฆ..  teach children from a young change that anxiety is a certain feeling.

What is important is – sit with them and talk to them using a kind voice โ€“ when they are in the best of spirits โ€“ so when they are not feeling anxious.

  • Teach them young that it is okay to feel that way
  • Encourage children to name the feelings- giving the feeling a name โ€“ labelling it allows for some control.
  • Brainstorm ideas โ€“ what makes us feel safe. Brain helps us to think โ€“ feel and act- but the core purpose of the brain is relational โ€“ so we thrive when we feel valued -connected and safe.
  • Educate children about the brain โ€“ there are plenty of story books and picture books that talk about the brain (also refer to my writing on brain works too ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • Tell them that the brain stem needs to feel safe and breathing helps us the brainstem to feel safe.
  • Talk to them that the brain has four layers โ€“ and each layer has its own function
  • Convey – when we feel sad or angry or scared the brain stem picks up signals and gives out clouds โ€“ angry clouds or sad clouds or fearful clouds. All of the clouds go up and sit on the thinking spot and does not allow us to think.
  • Discuss learning to breathe helps with sending the clouds away so we can think bright and right and also feel safe.
  • Affirm that the bottom part of the brain is the primitive braindoes all the feeling and the top part of the brain does all the thinking โ€“The thinking brain flourishes and we can do wonders when our primitive brain feels safe and well
  • Chat about engaging in an activity that we enjoy – enriches & replenishes brain growth โ€“ it helps with feeling calm and centred. Repetitive work or play that is calming and settling โ€“ allows for brain health and brain growth โ€“ it can be music or drawing or any creative play
  • Discuss โ€“ belonging and feeling connected allows for safety
  • Enrich children with a list of comforting ideas โ€“ it can be
  • Holding on to something that feels comforting (a teddy or a familiar book/ object)
  • Encouraging them to use breathing
  • Counting to ten
  • Listening to a story or a song that makes them calm
  • Moving to a beat โ€“ learning a dance or engaging in exercise brings calm
  • Incorporating structure and routine
  • Giving plenty of positive feedback
  • Using gentle kind and affirming words
  • Inculcating love for nature
  • Allowing them to talk about their own strengths
  • Having Pets โ€“ especially dogs have a transformative effect on those experiencing any level of discomfort
  • Facilitating repetitive nurturing experiences that are calming and enriching
  • All of the aforesaid invites peace , calm โ€“ betterment and resilience.
  • What the child is able to do in collaboration today , he will be able to do independently tomorrow โ€“ Lev Vygotsky

With much aroha ,

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