Finding the Truth of the Matter
When my son was young, he often experienced a great deal of anxiety about all kinds of things. He was worried about what would happen tomorrow, or in the next half hour. He would get so upset thinking about all the things that were outside of his control because he didn’t know how to face what he didn’t know what was coming. We think we can handle anything if we know what’s coming and can prepare for it ahead of time. But sometimes, the “what if’s” are loud. The doubts we have as parents are hard not to listen to. The questions we have about our children and ourselves are plenteous and unnerving. So how do we face our anxieties and questions without completely unraveling?
We must remind ourselves of truth. What do you KNOW to be true about a situation? Sometimes, there’s not much truth in the thoughts that invade our minds. There are lots of questions, but no answers. So, we have to identify what is truly true, and preach that to ourselves. The rest we must find a way to set aside. I created what I called “truth cards” for my son to help him overcome such thoughts. The thoughts that pervaded his young mind were scary ones such as, “How do I know my parents love me? What if something bad happens to me? I’m scared when I try to go to sleep at night.” I wrote down true statements on colored cardstock and laminated and hole-punched them so he could talk himself down when he was anxious. Reading through these truth statements when he was anxious or scared helped him be able to manage his emotions and taught him that there is a way out of scary thoughts. I would read them with him at first until he learned how to go through them himself.
As parents, we sometimes need truth reminders too. Those “what if’s” and doubts that you’re really doing a good job can be pervasive and intimidating. But if you can find the truth at the root of the anxious thought, you can grab hold of it, and preach to your doubt. When you wonder if your child will speak, you may not have an answer to that. But you know you are helping him or her learn the skills they need to communicate with you, and you are doing a good job in that. When you feel like you’re failing your child, consider what you have done to help them. Have you provided them with clothing, food, a bed, and love? Have you read to them? Played or watched their favorite movie with them? Identify those thoughts as false when they start raising their voices in your head. Think through them critically and analyze what’s really true about them. Most of the time, it’s nothing at all. Then tell yourself it’s not true and put it out of your mind. Focus on what is true and good and right and keep walking straight ahead, unless you’re driving, in which case you should stay in your own lane. Find someone else who can help to remind you of truth when you need that extra support. Remember, you are never alone! We are all doing our best, trying to do what our kids need. We can give our kids and ourselves a way out of the negative nellies with a little help.