Finding Comfort in Chaos this School Year

Have your kids been clingy for attention lately? Complaining about tummy aches or other bodily complaints without physical? Whining more than usual or refusing to follow directions? These can be symptoms of anxiety, and I know based on my work as a psychotherapist that we are all experiencing anxiety on some level right now. All.of.us.

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”

– Susan David

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t get to avoid suffering in life. We’ve convinced ourselves that there are positive and negative feelings we experience, and if we don’t feel positive, then there must be something wrong with us. Here’s the hopeful news – There is NOTHING wrong with any of us. We are built with these emotions. They are neither good nor bad; they just are. I like to say we have comfortable and uncomfortable feelings, and both are equally purposeful for our well-being.

Being a perfect parent/teacher/therapist for kids isn’t possible, as hard as we may try. Hello, mom guilt! BUT you know what is possible? Being a PRESENT parent, teacher, or therapist. When we spend time and attention on our children, we give them and ourselves the most valuable gift in the world – presence.

I was recently working through a journal prompt that asked me, “What are all the things you tried to get done today?” I had a long list of:

The very next prompt asked, “What accomplishments would make you feel most fulfilled at the end of the day?”

My answer to this question is where everything came into focus for me. Connecting with my daughter was the number one thing that would help me experience fulfillment, and yet I pushed it off the list several times in favor of other tasks that day. This was the wake-up call I needed.

I’ve come back to this question several times this week when I feel pulled in opposite directions. I ask myself, what will make me feel most fulfilled at the end of the day? Of course, we can’t always follow what makes us feel satisfied, or nothing will get done. But, if we pay attention to this need and desire for connection with our children even in small increments, it can help you feel more present in your child’s life. In return, your children are getting their bucket for love and connection filled up too, and their anxiety will go down.

So how do we connect with our children in meaningful ways to reduce anxiety?

I hope this activity will help you find some comfort within discomfort this week as you face the challenges of pandemic life and all the stressors of back-to-school. We don’t always have the answers. I know I sure don’t! But I do know we don’t have to distract, fix, or remove children from their emotions. When we accept children with their uncomfortable feelings, we change the narrative that emotions are either good or bad, and this can be liberating for all of us.

To receive free mental health resources and stay up-to-date with my latest happenings, please subscribe to my website, bethtyson.com.

For additional tips and a community of people who want to improve the emotional lives of children, please join my Facebook group, Emotiminds. We’d love to have your insights!

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