I have met many children who have used the term "anxiety" to describe their experiences of discomfort, but when asked what they mean by "anxiety", they were unable to answer the question. I doubt that's true for most of their parents, but, just to be sure, let's clarify what I mean when I speak about 'anxiety" and "feeling anxious".
As in yesterday's post, anxiety is that feeling that something COULD go wrong; everyone experiences it at some point or another; and it often (as we're defining it for our purposes) is associated with our (conscious and unconscious) perceptions of risk of something bad happening - whether or not the factors are based in reality and related life experience.
Like that there could be a lion under your bed; that you may fail the final exam/performance appraisal tomorrow; that you may blow your class presentation/speech and everyone will laugh at you; that you won't meet a single friendly peer on your first day at your new school/job; that your teacher/boss won't like you. You get the idea.
When you're having those kinds of thoughts, you may notice that your heart is beating harder and faster, your breathing is becoming faster and more shallow, your hands feel clammy, you feel sweaty, your muscles tense up, your vision becomes very sharply focused, and/or you feel butterflies (queasiness) in your stomach. This is all the result of your autonomic nervous system kicking in to help you fight off, run away from, or play dead in the presence of a threat ... in order to survive. It's a protective system kicking in when it's not really all that helpful. Fighting, running away or playing dead won't help you with these kinds of threats. And it makes you feel crappy - or "anxious".
The good news is that you're NOT in physical danger - there is no risk of physical harm or death.
But the bad news? You FEEL like you're at risk socially, emotionally or psychologically and it still feels yucky.
Does this resonate for you? For your child?