Parents of children or teens who appear overly cautious toward ordinary situations often don’t know whether to be worried or to take it in stride as just part of childhood angst. But Laurie Hollman, a psychoanalyst, warns that anxious behavior such as separation anxiety, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorder needs to be carefully managed, and she provides a five-step method for doing so in her new book, The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens: The Parental Intelligence Way (Familius, Aug. 1, 2018).
Hollman describes how to distinguish anxiety from normal fear, and understands how upsetting anxiety attacks can be to both parent and child. Her five Parental Intelligence steps offer a way to calmly approach a child’s anxiety and resolve it effectively. The steps involve, 1) Stepping Back, 2) Self-reflecting, 3) Understanding Your Child’s Mind, 4) Understanding Your Child’s Development, and 5) Problem.
Solving. Parental Intelligence emphasizes the need for parents to provide a stable, supportive and safe place of protection in the face of these highly tension-producing experiences.
Using multiple examples, Hollman offers specific advice for implementing the five-step method with various anxiety disorders. For example, the first point, Stepping Back, is intended to create a moment of pause so that parents won’t react in a knee-jerk, emotion-charged manner. Instead, taking a moment to step back allows them to collect themselves and give a more reasoned response.
Parental Intelligence isn’t always a linear process, Hollman explains. Parents may need to go back and forth among the steps before they arrive at the problem-solving stage. For instance, parents may think that they understand their child’s mind (step 3), but it’s important that they check in with their child to make sure their ideas for the behavior agree with their child’s. Parents may have interpreted a child’s separation anxiety as simply missing them during the day, while the child may share that it’s a fear that the parents won’t ever return home.
Checking in with and attempting to understand their child’s emotions will help the child feel understood and lead to better insight into emotional responses for both parent and child. Not only does the Parental Intelligence approach calm the child, it allows parents to become more empathetic to the child’s anxiety and strengthens the parent-child bond.
At the conclusion of each chapter, Hollman provides a list of valuable, insightful tips for how parents can handle children with a specific anxiety disorder. These range from speaking in quiet, gentle tones to listening nonjudgmentally to placing a paper bag over the child’s nose and mouth to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide when a child is hyperventilating during a panic attack.
The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens is one in a series of “Busy Parent’s Guides.” Hollman has also published a guide to managing anger in children and teens using the Parental Intelligence method. By sharing her expert advice, she gives parents the confidence to calm the situation and help their children and teens cope with out-of-control emotions in ways that allow them to build competencies and self-control.
Learn more at the author’s website.