I started to feel really upset but then I realized it was just my anxiety telling me something that wasn’t real.”
This is a direct quote from a kid who used to “say” the same thing with holes in walls and slammed doors.
“Name their feelings” they said. So I did. And still they screamed and threw and shut down and freaked out. But I kept naming feelings, teaching tools, offering them my own regulated state.
And I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but it started to shift. More communication shared through words, less through the screaming, throwing, shutting down and freaking out.
And now, my kids, they say things. They say really simple and really profound things—about what they feel, about what they need.
I feel sad.
My anxiety is out of control.
I need a hug.
Can you pray with me?
I need a break.
I feel scared.
My anxiety hurts.
I need to breathe with you.
Sometimes they still “talk” the old way—with behaviors. But as I’ve learned to help them share where they are and what they need, they’ve learned there’s a better way.
So name their feelings, share tools, offer your own regulated presence to them. And do it all over and over and then over again.