How to parent with anxiety
Learning something new can make you tired, cranky and in need of an extra confidence boost, because it brings out our insecurities and anxious feelings.
When our kids learn something new like riding a bike, reading, writing and even sleeping independently there are tears, refusals and TONS of growth.
I know, I know. Learning to read and learning to sleep are two different things. No one NEEDS to learn to sleep. Some of you may agree and some may disagree, that’s the beauty of choice and intuition.
I am going to circle back to anxiety. Anxiety is the fuel behind many behaviors. When we feel anxious, we feel restless, afraid, and desperate. Desperate for something or someone to FIX how we feel. And as parents, our own anxieties drive our impatience.
We aren’t patient when our kids take a million minutes to put their coat on because we are already thinking about all the tasks that have to be done that day. We aren’t patient when our babies are crying because we immediately want to stop the crying as it triggers our own feelings deep down. Our impatience will cause us to jump into action to swiftly fix the anxiety instead of digging deep and addressing where it’s coming from and how it truly makes us feel.
As humans we distract distract distract in order to avoid how we FEEL. I worry that I do the same with my twins in that I repeatedly try to fix whatever it is so that they don’t feel the hard stuff.
Recently, I shared some hard times we were experiencing with our daughter and her need for control. I was masking her anxieties by fixing everything she demanded. I was like a puppet on a string. It wasn’t until I listened very closely to @janetlansbury that I dug deep and didn’t fix what Brynn wanted. Instead, I held on as her feelings boiled up and then over. I let her know I was there, but that I wasn’t going to fix it. I’ve seen a huge change in her ability to cope with things she cannot control since that day.
It seems easy, yeah? Not quite!
So, what does this have to do with sleep?
My opinion is that sleep is a skill just like anything else. When we learn skills, we mess up, we feel inadequate and it takes practice. Learning to sleep taps into our kiddos anxious feelings because it means separation from parents and its dark outside triggering feelings of unknown.
Our children will feel anxious when they are learning to sleep independently or when they are transitioning out of the crib into a big bed, for example.
I help parents coach their babies to learn to sleep and to LOVE sleep. That doesn’t mean that as those babies get older that sleep will be seamless. It’s a constant skill that has to be sharpened and practiced. Your kids anxieties, personalities and experiences will dull those skills and cause us to feel impatient.
I don’t know any adult that doesn’t have to prioritize their sleep skills and habits in order to feel rested and not like a zombie.
I hope you can take some of this to heart and that my words have encouraged you to tap into your own STUFF. It will make a hug difference when you let your babies know its OKAY to experience or express whatever they are feeling in that moment.