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Self-Awareness and Self-Understanding in Anxiety Management

Helping your child learn about their feelings is an important part of your child’s growth. Advances in the psychology and neuroscience of emotions, now offer us a new understanding of the nature of emotion—and of the importance of emotion, in our own lives and in the lives of our children. But, what does it mean to “learn about” feelings?

Learning about feelings means helping your child understand they have the same feelings or emotions as everybody else – the same feelings as their friends, siblings, teachers – even their parents. Part of being human means having feelings – and there are lots of them! As we grow up our emotions guide our thoughts and our imagination, our behaviour, our values,  and our moral judgments. They even effect our memories.

Learning about feelings also means knowing what they feel like in the body. If your child is dealing with anxiety, he or she has likely experienced some of the following: rapid breathing, pounding heart, sweating, shaking, dizziness, tense muscles, upset stomach. Sound familiar? This is often what anxiety feels like. But, it could also mean your child is afraid or even really excited. Learning to identify emotions often starts with understanding how the body reacts, then figuring out how we are interpreting that information.

When your child knows what they are feeling, they can understand it, enjoy it, or manage it. It means they can be in control of themselves, their body, thoughts, and behaviour. They can be the “boss” of themselves, meaning they will know that they can do or think things to make themselves feel better when experiencing uncomfortable emotions (like frustration, sadness, anger, anxiety, jealousy and so forth).

In order to have great friendships or relationships, it is really helpful to know how to respond to the feelings of others. “What if” conversations can help kids practice their responses and develop empathy. Ask your child how they would like to be treated if they were feeling _______? Then ask, if they thought their best friend/sibling/someone at school was feeling that way, what would they do or say?
Learning about their emotions will help our kids be better friends to themselves and others.

Article Author: Valerie Ostara is the world’s first Closet Monster Battle Coach and founder of Sound–Mind.ca, an educational and coaching organization dedicated to defeating the anxiety monsters that lurk in the closets and under the beds of our children’s minds. Through our effective and empowering strategies, children and parents learn the skills and self-management techniques guaranteed to bring peace of mind.