It seems that today’s children are experiencing problems with anxiety much more than children in the past. Anxiety can zap the joy from childhood and set children up for continued emotional difficulty in the future.
Have you ever wished you had a guidebook for your child? Thanks to Dr. Alan Kazdin, you can have the next best thing. As a parent, you will get a lot of (often unsolicited!) advice, much of it conflicting. It can be difficult to know who to listen to or what to do.
"Shoot for the moon...even if you miss, you'll end up among the stars." I used to have a sweatshirt with this saying. It was one of my favorite sweatshirts when I was younger, not because it fit well or was stylish (it was probably neither :) ), but because I loved the message. I dreamed big, and it reminded me to keep trying even if things weren't going quite right.
So where does this fit in with setting low goals, which I talked about in my last post? As I mentioned, aiming high from the start can seem overwhelming and get in the way of doing anything at all. Once you've started to make progress toward your goal, however, it's a good idea to switch gears and end on a high note.
While setting small attainable goals can help get you on the right track, setting higher goals that seem slightly out of reach can help you reach your full potential. So once you feel comfortable with the steps you're taking, try challenging yourself to do just a little more or go just a little faster than you think you can.
Always make sure to always keep your goal specific (e.g., "I will hit this number," as opposed to "I will do as much as I can.") Why? Research shows that having a specific goal, even if it seems unattainable, leads to better results than setting vague goals of doing "as much as possible." The team with the specific goal will almost always outperform the team with the goal to do "their best."
This is how Olympians set world records. They aim not to go just as fast as they can, or even faster than the others in the competition, but to beat the specific number that is the best anyone has ever done. Even if they miss, they may still win a gold!
Who among us hasn't had a goal they've had difficulty accomplishing? What's gotten in the way? Maybe the goal felt TOO BIG. In my previous post on setting goals, I mentioned that it can be helpful to start small when setting goals. This may seem counter-intuitive if you have a big goal in mind. So why start "low" with your goals?
Setting ambitious goals can feel good, but trying to reach those goals can feel overwhelming...especially if it requires a big time commitment. Setting small, well-defined, and easily attainable goals to start can get you on the right track working toward your goal by building confidence in your ability to achieve the goal and getting you into the habit of taking steps toward that goal. Don't start lower than where you already are, but if you're feeling overwhelmed by all that's in front of you, try adding just a little at a time.
Looking to make a change? Take a lesson from the playground. Setting goals effectively can be a bit like a seesaw or a swing; you don't want to start at the top. Whether you have a large ambitious goal (like running a marathon) or a less defined desire to change something (like a desire to be healthier), you may benefit by starting low and ending high. Stay tuned to find out why.
"The What to Do" Guides are a series of books by psychologist Dr. Dawn Huebner for helping children deal with a variety of problems ranging from every day difficulties, like how to respond to anger, to diagnosable problems, like OCD.
Most people carry around more tension than they realize, which can lead to physical complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, and difficulty sleeping. The neck, shoulders, and jaw are common areas of the body to hold tension. A few times a day, mentally scan your body for tension (paying particular attention to those areas that carry tension most often), and try to intentionally let go of any extra tension you're holding. Notice the difference in how you feel once the tension is released.
Anxiety makes us want to avoid things, but avoiding them makes us more anxious. Instead of feeding your fears, try taking small steps toward facing them.
Seeing a psychologist doesn't mean you're "crazy" or mentally ill; it means that there are areas of your life you'd like to improve, and that you want professional advice from someone with specialized training about how to improve them.