A friend and I were talking about sport and how some kids get really nervous before an event. She explained that her daughter (14 yrs old, lets call her ‘Daisy’) has mild to moderate anxiety attacks before important events and that now Daisy even has anxiety about having anxiety!
I broke into a spiel about how my friend could help her daughter and here is what came out…
The day before an event sit down together and find out everything Daisy is worried about. Do it somewhere private where you won’t get interrupted and give yourself about an hour.
Start by asking, “What are you worried about?” (Daisy hasn’t met Sparky and Shady so I adjusted my language to suit).
Encourage Daisy to say everything she is worried about, no matter how silly, horrible, selfish, ridiculous, minor or major.
Don’t minimise or try to solve any of her worries and concerns – just listen. Nothing she says is unacceptable, it is all welcome and it all needs to come out (it is important not to judge what comes out).
Ask, “What else?” when she stops. Make sure everything comes out.
During this process Daisy will probably get emotional, she may get loud and fiery, quiet and teary or a bit of both.
Encourage Daisy to feel and express her fear, sadness and anger. Just make sure she knows it is not okay to hurt herself, other people (with her words or actions) or stuff that isn’t supposed to get wrecked.
When Daisy has said all her fearful thoughts and expressed all the painful feelings that go with them, suggest she ask the confident, loving, and wise part of herself what to think and do next. If she looks confused simply explain, “Well we already heard what the most scared part of you thinks. There is an opposite part of you that is wise, loving and confident and now it’s time to hear from her! Fair is fair! What does this part of you think?”
Ask Daisy what this part of her suggested, if she really can’t come up with something then now is the time for you to give her a loving and wise solution. Once you have one, encourage Daisy to think and do whatever she or you came up with (assuming she agrees with your suggestion!)
If Daisy is feeling anxious about the event the next day when she wakes up, or on her way to the venue ask her if there is anything else she is worried about that she didn’t get out yesterday. If she only has the same worries explain that you have already heard all these and that it is now time to get on with thinking and doing what the loving and wise part of her told her to do yesterday.
If she can’t move on or she comes up with new stuff encourage her to say it all and to feel and express her feelings about it too. Once that is completely done again, when she has nothing left ask, “What does the wise, loving and confident part of you suggest thinking and doing now?”
Encourage her to think and do whatever the wise and loving part of her told her to do.
Why this works –
When our body has physical waste stored in it, we wee, poo or puke until the waste completely comes out.
When our body has mental and emotional waste in it (like worry and the feelings that accompany it), we need to say it, write it, share it, feel it and express it completely to get it out of us too!
Happy Chrissy and if you are feeling anxious about everything you have to do in the next 12 days, try this strategy yourself! It doesn’t just work for kids with sporty problems!