3 September 2021
Anxiety in children, young people and adults has become more widely known in recent years. The feeling of Anxiety or anxious behaviours comes in all shapes and sizes and how we feel, think and react to situations and events is different to everyone.
All behaviours have a positive intention, which brings me to look at the Functions and purpose of anxiety. Physiologically our bodies and minds are designed to protect us and keep us safe which triggers what is called the fight or flight response. Depending on a variety of different factors, influences and our understanding of the situation will depend on the response that we choose. When working with children and young people it is important to understand their positive intention – they may not be conscious of this positive intention.
Let me share this with you …… a young person is feeling anxious about going into school, and as a result of displaying that anxiety they get the day off school, their parent takes the day of work and they get to spend the day together having lots of interaction and engagement with their parent, this situation then becomes a positive experience for the young person in a sense that they are getting a reward for this behaviour and it’s a good thing. This then becomes a cycle of learnt behaviour for that young person to not only protect and keep themselves safe from the reason why they don’t want to go to school, but it also gives them a reward.
I mentioned earlier about our mind and our body is designed to protect us, and they work together to do this. So here comes the science bit…….each of us have what are called neurotransmitters or hormones that affect our physical bodies and also our thought process, therefore it there can be a chance that there is some genetic code that when there is anxiety triggered stimulus that this will trigger anxious thoughts and behaviours.
There is the historical Nature vs Nurture debate, on what impacts us on who we are and the behaviours that we display, Is the environment around us or our genetics? My answer to this is a little bit of both. Throughout our childhood, we learn the behaviours that we see, hear and experience. If, as children, we see, hear and experience anxious behaviours there is a high chance that these behaviours will be imprinted and when similar events happen these behaviours will be replicated.
As an example, working in childcare for many years, I have worked with young children who are shy, not very confident, nervous in situations, and more often than not, when meeting their parent or carer, they are also shy, not very confident and nervous.
The anxiety problems consist of 3 parts….. anxious thoughts, the emotion of anxiety and the anxious behaviours
Over time behaviour is imprinted into our unconscious mind and our learned behaviours, thoughts and feeling are triggered when a particular situation or event happens
If we can learn this behaviour it is true to say that we can unlearn it and create new resourceful behaviour.
Anxiety induced triggers in a child or young persons life can be caused by life experiences, our genetic imprint, the chemical or genetic code in our brains, or by all these.
The good thing is regardless of the cause, using NLP techniques we are able to positively reprogramme our thoughts and feelings to create new ways of thinking and new behaviours for better outcomes.
Which means saying goodbye to anxious feelings, anxious behaviours and start moving forward.