Over the course of the past couple of years, my staff and I have noticed an increase in calls from parents reporting stress and anxiety reactions in their children. Everything from academic performance, to social interactions, to family dynamics appears to be creating more and more unhealthy feelings for our youth—at younger ages than ever before. As a result, we are seeing a wide range of various forms of acting out; behaviors that have parents calling our office for help.
Granted, kids today have a lot of moving parts to their little lives, and more is expected of them—behaviorally AND emotionally–than was expected from those of us who grew up… eh hum… in years long gone by…
My professional observation is that not enough time is being taken by many parents today to talk to and assist their children in identifying what they are feeling before it bubbles up and overwhelms them. Parents need to explore with their children the emotions behind their anger; behind their poor behavior. Awareness of our feelings of fear, embarrassment, sadness, disappointment, shame, or frustration is the first step toward managing them.
Children are not born with an understanding of their emotional world. They need to be taught about their emotions and guided in correctly identifying them. Only with awareness of what they are truly feeling--the harder stuff to talk about—can they begin to acquire mastery over their behavior and resulting reactions to the world around them.