Bryn Novak May 16-17, 2016 Making Sense of Anxiety

What is Anxiety?
• A vague sense of unsafety and unease, characterized by apprehension and restlessness.
• Dr. Neufeld refers to anxiety as an Alarm System.
Some ways we alarm our children:
• By raising our voice
• With warnings and threats (especially with separation)
• By giving ultimatums
• By feeling separation
• By trading on a child’s fears, with scary stories (ex: there are sharks in the lake, the green man is going to take you if you do that).
Reasons for Escalating Anxiety:
1. Unprecedented separation from adults attached to
2. Children are failing to develop deep attachments
3. Children are becoming peer oriented
4. Parents are resorting to alarming their children
5. Separation-based discipline is becoming the norm
Addressing Anxiety:
1. Reduce the separation being faced
• Avoid any separation that can be avoided
• Reduce experiences where separation is faced
• Refrain from separation-based disciplines
• Bridge any separation that cannot be avoided

2. Do not overwhelm the alarm system
• Refrain from raising one’s voice, from warnings, threats, and ultimatums, from upping the ante.
3. Foster an accepting attitude to alarm and anxiety
• Do not make anxiety an alarming experience
• Do not battle symptoms or irrationality
• Normalize and depersonalize the experience
• Anticipate and make room for the experience
4. Help find acceptable substitutes for reducing anxiety
• Visiting family and friends
• Doing something that is enjoyable to you
• Exercise
5. Bring relief from alarming feelings and build resilience by helping to find the tears of futility when appropriate
• Draw out the tears in the face of alarming futilities.
6. Cultivate courage by fanning the desires that will answer the fears, and then by helping to find the mixed feelings when ready.
• Fan the desires that would answer the alarm.
• Draw out feelings of alarm and desire separately.
• Get alarm and desire to mix.
Interesting information about anxiety:
• When an alarm is alarmed it highjacks attention.
• When children are alarmed they likely cannot pay attention.
• When an alarm system does not work well the individual is likely to get into trouble.
• If raising your voice towards a student does not do anything then the alarm system is not working.
• If you do not get the tears out it will cause anger to come out.
• False alarms happen