How do we, as 'grown ups', protect ourselves from the chaos that life often delivers. We all have days when we are overwhelmed with everything going on around us. It can be something as simple as walking into a messy room or standing amidst a group of happy, chatty people. Sometimes we just need to step out of the room and close the door or walk away from the group of people and go to a quiet corner. That's where we can take that deep breath to calm the anxiety that is the BFF of chaos.
What happens when the chaos is internal? How do you escape it? If you are an adult, then hopefully you've found a 'healthy' way to re-direct your thoughts. Perhaps you exercise or meditate... maybe you sit with a good book. We, as adults, usually have a box full of strategies that we've collected over the years to help us.
However, when you are a child with this type of internal chaos, you may not know what to do. You may scream at everyone around you. You might try to harm yourself to trade one type of pain for another. You may cry or sink into a dark hole where no amount of light can reach you. You feel hopeless. You might not see any possible escape. You probably even know that the chaotic, anxious thoughts are irrational and overly exaggerated, but that doesn't matter. They are too strong and you don't yet have a way to 'walk away' from them or 'shut a door' so you can find a safe place.
So, how do we help a child develop these coping skills? There are tons of books on this topic! I believe that the best place to start, the only place to start, is to validate those feelings. Listen if they'll talk to you. Don't judge their fears and say they are silly. Be as patient as possible while they express themselves, even if it's in anger. Get them professional help if just talking doesn't do any good.
There is so much more to say on this topic. I have to stop here for now, but feel free to comment below if you have any strategies that have worked for you or someone you know. Every child and situation is different, so there is no one universal fix. The more ideas we share, the more chance of we have of helping equip a child with needed coping skills.
In caring partnership!
Cindy Gagne Teixeira
Just like you, I wear many hats. I'm a mom, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer. I choose to laugh (and talk... and write) about my problems because crying takes too much time.