If your child is anxious … read this
Lynn Jenkins is an author, clinical psychologist and mother of three. She wrote her book, Lessons of a LAC, to help anxious children learn a new way to approach life.
Loppy is a Little Anxious Creature (LAC). He only knows how to look out for danger and what can go wrong. He is anxiety chatter externalised. Curly Calmster only knows how to create calm and peace. He is anxiety management externalised.
Kirrili Lonergan (the illustrator) and the author wanted to give kids, and anyone who cares for them, a way to think and talk about anxiety. So Loppy is the character who does the chatting: “What if no one plays with me today?” Curly is the character who offers an alternative to the worry: “How about you wait to see what happens today?” Lessons of a LAC shows that there is a part of us that worries and also offers accessible ways to manage it through characters to whom children can relate.
Childhood anxiety is very prevalent in Australia today. Not just anxiety, but lower-level worry affects many kids. The world can be seen as a scary place as there are many different ways kids can be exposed to troubling events.
The main misconception about anxiety in children is the different ways in which they display their anxiety. The anxiety response is the body’s protection system; the body is preparing itself to fight or flee a danger. Some kids are naturally more “flee-ey” and others are naturally more “fighty”. The “fighty” kids can be misunderstood as “naughty” and the underlying anxiety missed.
Parents should try to stay calm about their children’s anxiety. Accept it, remember that it will not be exactly the same forever and acknowledge their feelings. The Loppy and Curly approach is good! For example: “It seems Loppy might be talking to you. What can Curly say to help you?”
Have a repertoire of strategies, and understand the physiology of anxiety. This can be reflected back to your child as well. For example, “Your brain is trying to protect you from something. Maybe it is something you are thinking about.” Or “Your body is giving you clues that you are concerned about something.”
Generally, the earlier parents start to intervene the better. This might mean taking them to a GP to get a referral to professional help.