anxiety Archives - A Step at a Time

Strategies to support children: Homemade Sensory Boxes

Posted by | anger, anxiety, boredom, Children's Therapy, confidence, grief, low mood, self-belief, self-esteem, sensitive children, Stress, well-being | No Comments

Helping children to manage their emotions and learn to regulate them can be a daunting task. Children’s rapid brain development means that whilst they develop logic and reasoning from the age of 5, they can often be impulsive, as the frontal cortex of the brain, which controls logic develops much later. In fact, the frontal cortex development continues into adulthood, so recognising that children need our help to develop reasoning and control is the first step to connecting and helping them. The later development of the frontal cortex means that children; are more likely to act on impulse are less likely to think before they act are more likely to take risks or act out risky behaviours have difficulty considering the consequence of their actions may behave in inappropriate ways Therefore, as adults, supporting children to develop the knowledge and understanding of these areas is important in their social and…

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Posted by | Adventures of Brian, anxiety, child therapy, confidence, depression, self-esteem, Stress, Teenagers, well-being | No Comments

The world has become a crazy and new place to be living over recent months, and many parents who I speak with are contemplating what comes next and how to manage those steps. After spending months in protective bubbles at home, the concept of the return to school, seeing friends (from a social distance) and returning to a new reality can feel both overwhelming and exciting. The difficulty for many, being identifying how to make the ‘right’ choices and when to make those choices. So, how do we support ourselves and our families with this concept? Firstly, before doing anything, or making any decisions, STOP, and let’s look at all the bases:   #1 – Check in with yourself It can be so easy to fall into the routine of thinking so much about what your family needs that you forget or ignore your own needs. However, in the current…

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Supporting Parent/Adult Mental Health

Posted by | anxiety, depression, low mood, mental health, relationships, self-esteem, Stress | No Comments

Whilst I frequently write about child mental health, this blog is a shallow dive into adult mental health, to support parents, carers and wider family members who may need some support. Mental health, whilst a subject more frequently written and talked about, is still shrouded in its own elements of taboo and stigma. The reality, all of us have mental health. In its simplest form, mental health is a pendulum, swinging back and forth throughout our lives between good mental health and ill mental health.  Different life circumstances, situations and experiences may influence the pendulum in the short, medium or longer term. So, what dictates our responses to this? For the majority, core factors that affect our reactions and the impact and duration of the impact on our mental health include (but not exhaustive): Previous life experiences Our state of mental health at the time of the event Our resilience…

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Supporting children with angry feelings

Posted by | anger, anxiety, BWRT, Children's Therapy, confidence, low mood, self-esteem, Stress | No Comments

Why do we get angry?? Everyone has a different response to anger, and the reason for this is that everyone interprets the environment, relationships and situations differently. This is dependent on previous experience, developmental stage and our understanding of our own emotions and triggers. As such, no response to a situation is right or wrong, but merely our own response formed from our pre-learnt reactions. For children, as their brain development is in an escalated period and changing daily, their response to situations may not be what is deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘desired’ but will, like our own responses, be a response to the emotions that they are feeling internally and the learnt responses they have developed to date. These may be their ‘fight-flight-freeze-faint’ responses, they may be responses learnt from previous experiences or they may be learnt responses from the people around them. So, where do these responses come from?…

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How to recognise signs of poor mental health in children and 5 ways to support children at home.

Posted by | anxiety, Children's Therapy, confidence, depression, emotional eating, grief, low mood, parent separation, self-belief, self-esteem, separation anxiety, Stress, Teenagers, well-being | No Comments

The thing about mental health, is that we all have it. If we imagine it as a swinging pendulum, throughout out life times, our mental health moves between good mental well-being and poor mental well-being, depending on life circumstances, events and situations. Everyone can have days when their mental health feels more sensitive, but for some, realising that their mental health is suffering and needs support can be a shock. For children and teenagers, brain development is ever changing and moving, children’s pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain that supports rational thought, seeing perspectives, solving problems and regulation continues its development throughout childhood and adolescence. So, we cannot expect our children to know how to manage their own feelings without guidance and support. In addition, as their primary responses come from their limbic brain system we can often see strong emotions, reactive and instinctive responses to issues –…

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5 tips to supporting children in separated families

Posted by | anxiety, child therapy, Children's Therapy, loss, parent separation, relationships, sensitive children, separation anxiety | No Comments

Family separations bring with them a great deal of emotions, for parents, children and the wider family. As parents adjust to co-parenting finding ways to connect, interact and support children in an optimal way is paramount. Whilst some families glide into co-parenting, others can find that the transition is more difficult and the uncertainty of the best ways to support children can feel difficult to navigate. So, whilst the list of strategies and approaches is endless, here’s five ways that you can underpin your behaviours and reactions to co-parenting to best support children in the transitions. Keep child centred – work at their pace Co-parenting is an adjustment for parents and children, however, for children, the transition can be fraught with anxiety, worry and uncertainty. Particularly around when they will see their parent again and what will happen next. In many cases, parents may have been planning or been aware…

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10 Resources to support children with anxiety

Posted by | anxiety, books, child therapy, Children's Therapy, confidence, life coaching, self-belief, self-esteem, separation anxiety | No Comments

If your child is prone to anxiety, offering them support and knowing what to say, can feel really difficult. Offering children an environment where they feel able to talk without judgement, feel accepted and have their emotions respected becomes fundamental to helping them to grow their confidence and resilience. At its core, for children to feel more in control we need to help them build their resilience skills. Resilience is all about our ability to manage situations and bounce back from difficulties. In order to foster resilience we need: To develop children’s awareness of what their emotions mean To support children to develop the vocabulary for their emotions To help children to recognise their triggers and know what the feelings are that occur when faced with them To support children to learn positive coping mechanisms to manage their feelings In this blog, i’ll be sharing ten resources that you can…

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Supporting Separation Anxiety in Older Children

Posted by | Adventures of Brian, anxiety, Children's Therapy, confidence, self-esteem, sensitive children, separation anxiety, Stress | No Comments

In many cases, people can forget that older children can be as prone to separation anxiety as younger children and toddlers. In fact, as the years tick by, as a therapist, I see more and more children experiencing separation anxiety. What does it look like? In its simplest terms, separation anxiety, is when a child, teen or an adult is scared/afraid to be away from a particular person. Albeit a parent, guardian, partner or a pet. The concept of being apart from them creates severe anxiety. This can include physical and emotional symptoms: Headaches Stomach aches Crying / distress Begging or pleading not to leave Screaming Panic (inc. shaking, hiding) Retching or being sick Fear of leaving the significant person A fear that something ‘bad’ will happen if they are not with them A fear of being alone Refusal to sleep alone Refusal to sleep away from home / away…

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Supporting introvert and sensitive children

Posted by | anxiety, boredom, child therapy, Children's Therapy, confidence, introverts, self-belief, self-esteem, self-image, sensitive children, Teenagers, well-being | No Comments

Having a child who is not the first in queue to do new things, meet new people or sit and chat, can feel that there is something wrong, However, for some children, being introverted or sensitive can mean that rather than think that there is something wrong with them, we need to identify how we can adapt our routines and behaviours to help them thrive. Introverts, are by nature, quieter, more reserved and happier to spend alone, whilst extroverts enjoy socialising, being active and larger groups. Whilst this is only the tip of the icebergs, we can often see in children we know, those who are happier in their own, peaceful worlds, and those who quickly become bored in their own company. The concern is often, whether the introverted behaviours are introverted or something to be concerned about. Signs of introverted child Deep thinkers and processors Self-sufficient Insular, reserved and…

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Supporting toddlers through separation anxiety

Posted by | anxiety, child therapy, Children's Therapy, confidence, self-esteem, separation anxiety | No Comments

So many parents contact me regarding separation anxiety. In some cases, the anxiety is a normal developmental stage, in others it is part of a separation issues which is causing the child anxiety symptoms. So, how do we know the difference? Around 7 to 8 months old, children develop a concept called object permanence. This means that they understand that something still exists even when it is out of sight. Think about young children for a moment, and how, if you hide a toy they do not go looking for it, and may even cry when it is not in sight? Once a child has object permanence they will seek out toys or people when they are not visible. It is therefore natural, that at around this stage children can want to stay with primary carers and not want them out of sight. Most children will naturally work through this…

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Teens, mental health timelines and cabin fever (How to cope)

Posted by | anxiety, boredom, child therapy, confidence, depression, low mood, self-belief, Stress, Teenagers, trauma | No Comments

Over the last week, I have spoken to more teens and parents who are experiencing the impact of the emotions rollercoaster created by cabin fever. This can include feelings of: Increased anxiety Decreased mood Heightened frustration Increased feelings of being trapped Increased feelings of anger, annoyance and irritability The realities of cabin fever, are that many of us are feeling exhausted, trapped and annoyed right now, and the quicker we put in place constructive systems to help us manage the feelings and build our resilience that better the outcomes for our mental health. Some early signs that we need to be aware of, that may indicate your teen (or you) is beginning to struggle are: Sleeping more – or using sleep to avoid things Motivation has dropped Avoidance of activities, interactions or learning Increased screen time Use of electronics to avoid, distract or escape Increased or decreased eating habits Less…

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How do we support boredom when we are stuck at home?

Posted by | Adventures of Brian, anxiety, boredom, child therapy | No Comments

When we choose to stay at home all weekend, lounging round and catching up on things we rarely get bored. However, when staying home is enforced and we lose the choice to go out, flit between shops and run errands we suddenly begin to feel very differently about things. In many cases boredom quickly sets in, and brings with it new levels of destructiveness. So, what is boredom? In its simplest sense, boredom is mental fatigue that is created by monotony (doing the same things over and over again) which creates a lack of interest in tasks and an empty feeling. What triggers boredom? Doing the same things repeatedly Lack of variety Too much predictability *It should be noted that we all NEED some predictability, boredom is created when there is little to no variety or no option for variety What does boredom look like? Boredom affects everyone differently, but…

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The story behind the Adventures of Brian

Posted by | Adventures of Brian, anxiety, bereavement, books, hypnotherapy | No Comments

I often get asked WHY I wrote the Adventures of Brian. With an ever growing book collection many people we meet want to know how it was inspired and what comes next. So it seemed an apt time to share it with you, as the anniversary of meeting the little girl who would prove to be a game changer to my life is coming up soon. So here’s our story… the Adventures of Brian Back Story… I’ve worked with children for my whole career, at 16 I worked in nurseries, progressing up to Nursery Manager and later to Early Years support roles within the local council. In 2005 I became a lecturer in early years and health and social care and committed the following years to teaching students from 16 upwards in A-Levels and Foundation Degrees. I suppose you could say that working with children and young people was in…

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Why storytelling can stop us connecting…..and getting better.

Posted by | anxiety, BWRT, hypnotherapy, Uncategorised | No Comments

As humans we are brilliant storytellers. From telling stories to children as they settle down to bedtime, to re-ounting stories of work politics, and sharing coffee whilst we tell stories of our lives. We read people’s stories on social media, we listen to adverts and read articles in the newspapers…. in reality,  we listen to, and tell stories every single day. Which can often be a huge reason why we are living in a world of assumptions and presumptions and missing the truth….. and so often avoiding accountability and responsibility for our part in the reality of life. Look at these examples…. Person A reads a statement on social media and takes a dislike to it, presuming it it about them… they block person B and tell their friends about the negative comments written about them… Person C is in a relationship with Person D, they see person D changing…

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Why change can be so scary………

Posted by | anxiety, BWRT, hypnotherapy | No Comments

Change can be a concept that for many people is terrifying… whilst others appear to take it in their stride. So, why is it so hard for some people to navigate? Change, in it’s simplest form is when things become different from how they are right now. In most cases, change is a positive thing, occasionally, change can be forced and harder to navigate. Some people will leap right in, with a faith that ‘everything will be ok’, whilst others can be crippled by the fear of ‘what might happen’ and the worry that it will have a negative outcome. So why? There are two parts to this. Firstly, the way that our brain processes change. The second, our level of resilience. Resilience and Patterns  Take two people. Lucy has always been active. She regularly attends clubs, classes and meets new people. She has changed her job every few years…

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