Easing anxiety in kids during an already anxious time

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Daisy Cartier has three little ones. They are fun, and funny. And she’s been with them full time, after nine years in sales and marketing.

"I decided to step down, and I’ve been staying home now for just over a year," she said.

She recently posted on Facebook about having anxiety. And it goes back years, to when she was growing up on the Range. Back then, it was in the form of obsessive compulsive disorder.

"I was constantly washing my hands. And before walking into a room, I needed to touch each side of the doorway. I thought something bad was going to happen. And I was always worried about my mom."

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Thanks to help from a psychologist from Range Mental Health, she was able to overcome some of those feelings."I would prevent myself from doing certain things. Like using a certain blanket. And she’d say, well, just use it three times. And if nothing bad happens, then it’s OK. And of course, nothing bad happened."

Now, as an adult, she relies on the power of putting her muscles to work. "When you get up and start moving, and thinking about something outside your head, and your body, and something bigger than yourself," she told us.

A psychotherapist from Amberwing in Duluth also shared her perspective. Chelsey Harju said validating is always step number one. "You can say, it makes sense you have these worries. Letting kids know, I remember worrying about this, and it ended up being OK," she said.

She also suggested some calming strategies, like taking a deep breath, progressive muscle relaxation, and grounding exercises. She’s also heard about a parent based treatment program called SPACE: Supportive Parenting For Anxious Childhood Emotions. It’s similar to techniques offered by Amberwing.

"We want to have them in a safe spot, and give them the tools to calm themselves. And really be able to face things they are scared of," Harju explained.

The basic idea is about modifying the parents behavior, which helps the child. Instead of making sure your child is 100% comfortable all of the time, it’s about empowering them, little by little. For example, being able to fall asleep in their own bed.

"We want to give them small opportunities to do that. Let them know throughout, hey listen, if you’re scared about a monster under your bed, yep, let’s check for that monster. And then say, look at that. You’ve been in your room for five minutes, good job," Harju added.

Also, she wants parents and kids to know that you’re not alone. "I can promise you that there are other kids in the classroom, or day care, struggling with similar things. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support and be honest about what your needs are."

That’s what helps Daisy, as well. "Definitely having a good support system. I lead monthly fitness groups and having that community to lean into is super helpful."

From the reactions to her post, she knows others are grateful for her honesty. Because anxiety doesn’t look the same for everyone. "People see you, and say you’re fine. You haven’t had anything bad happen to you, why should you feel that way? I think so many people deal with it, but it’s not completely evident."

Each day, she makes the best of it. Because she wants to spend more time watching somersaults,, than worrying.

"Sometimes you gotta put your faith over fear and just do it," she said.

For more details about Amberwing: https://amberwing.org/

For more details about SPACE: https://www.spacetreatment.net/