There is no end to the things we can worry about as parents, along with no end of advice from the experts out there. What can experts teach you? They can help you understand how “normal” children behave so that your expectations are in check. They can help you figure out negative patterns that, once seen, can be avoided. Of course, every relationship can use better communication skills.
Yet, the more wisdom we borrow from others, the less we rely on ourselves. When we focus on the “how-to” and information from the outside, we lose touch with our ability to solve our own problems. Accessing what we already know and thinking things through objectively requires a certain amount of insight. This has to come from you. Only you know what sets you off. Only you know when you feel triggered.
When emotions take over, it is hard to be objective, and our feelings seem bigger than the situation calls for. Strong emotions call on the most immature part of ourselves, which acts on impulse. Too much emotion usually shows up as anger, over-control or excessive worry and anxiety. We pass these emotions back and forth to other family members like an electric current.
The last thing our kids need is to be the victim of our anxiety. They respond to this over-concern with increasing self-consciousness. This can look like increased neediness or agitation. Then, we give even more support or correction, and now we have a child who cannot manage their own worries and becomes more impulsive. Now we see symptoms of a problem in the child and call in, yet again, another expert.
So, let this expert tell you a thing or two. Quite often, what we think is a problem, isn’t the problem at all; it is a symptom of our reactions. Keeping our anxiety in check can alleviate many difficulties in our families.
How much of your anxiety goes unchecked and focuses on changing somebody else’s behaviour? Can you resist acting out your impulses and give yourself a little time? Can you tap into immediate feelings and let them guide you to your values and needs? This is the path to accessing our inner expert, and the more attention we give it, the more often it will show up.