Fear of the unknown

Anticipatory anxiety. My son struggles with it. I struggle with his struggle. And I try to help.  Image

When I see he’s getting overwhelmed or frazzled, I try my best to stay calm because the last thing I want to do is fuel the fire. Here are some of the ways I try to defuse it:

  • Provide positive supports—visual [photos of favorite things] or auditory [music] or simply offer to help.
  • Try to turn the negative anticipation/expectation into positive anticipation. This fear of the unknown is just that—unknown. So it could be something good just as easily as it could be something bad. I try to be optimistic; many times that attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that’s always nice!
  • Redirect or distract—instead of exacerbating the issue by listening to your racing heart or spiraling out of control, I like to have a quote or saying—a new one each day—that keeps me in a positive mode. It could be a video clip that lifts you up. One thing my son likes is a widget I put on his desktop: it’s a picture frame. And all the photos/visuals stored in his computer’s ‘My Pictures’ file play continuously like a slideshow. I put movie-related things here, i.e. pictures of movie directors, actors, scenes from movies, movie posters and so on. [This helps keep him from going off-track and logging onto imdb.com. Once he does that, he’s lost forever.]
  • And finally, I ask a question: If this is an overwhelming, upsetting feeling, what gives you a comforting, good feeling? What can you look forward to? Visualize that to help push you through the anxiety.  Image

Simply having someone talk to you in a relaxed, unruffled manner does wonders when you’re in an agitated state. [But the other night my son was too far gone so my husband encouraged him to yell out or scream if it would make him feel better. I’m glad he didn’t yell—but probably just having the permission to do so made it okay. After lots of pacing and machinations and drama, he was ready to listen. Then we did the redirect step and won him back.]

A little TLC goes a long way, too. I like to end with some loving, supportive words dished up with a little snack.

Ahhh, another crisis averted. Sort of.

What are some strategies you use with your kids?


One response to “Fear of the unknown

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