When reflecting on the recent election, perhaps the one thing everyone can agree on is that there were intense emotions throughout the entire process. And while that intensity continues to play out in the news – and perhaps even among families – many parents may feel at a loss for how to explain to kids what is happening, and why.
Dr. Marcia Slattery, UW Health child and adolescent psychiatrist and director of the UW Anxiety Disorders Program, explains that what kids are noticing the most is the depth and degree of emotion – and even division – that people on both sides have felt. And that is what is creating confusion, and feelings of fear and uncertainty.
Worries and anxiety during childhood and adolescence are very common. Most of the time the anxiety that kids experience falls within the normal range. However, up to 1 in 5 children may actually suffer from an anxiety disorder before they reach age 18. Anxiety is common to human experience because it is important for survival, functioning to signal the possibility of threat in the environment. Anxiety’s survival value is evident as evolution has maintained it across the animal kingdom. Because of numerous studies, we know a lot about the brain systems that detect danger and signal the alarm associated with anxiety. We believe that this important brain system, when overactive, is responsible for more severe and impairing anxiety.
As a parent, you make sure your kids are safe, well fed, go to school and have more opportunities than you ever had at their age. But, there’s another part of parenting that’s perhaps the most challenging – helping them learn about the “human heart.” In this case, it’s not about the physical anatomy, but the emotional anatomy.
Temper Tantrums- think toddlers, right? Just when we think we are done with that stage of development with our children, we learn that our older children are prone to bursts of emotions.
Once our children are past the toddler years, it is easy to assume that tantrums or meltdowns will be a thing of the past. But, try standing next to the check-out register at a store with a tired and hungry eight-year-old surrounded by candy displays, and you both may experience a meltdown. Yes, it still happens but the reasons and the strategies to help with these meltdowns differ with older children.