Here’s my latest offering to Discordia.com.au – have a read, let me know what you think.
Kathryn, I’d never heard of Generalised Anxiety Disorder before, and I have a feeling it’s a fairly new diagnosis. I wonder if anyone will be tracking its course as children become teenagers and then grow into adults. Will your son gradually learn how to vary the way he responds to certain circumstances? And will he take more control over the kinds of situations he finds himself in? As I read the article, it made me think that everyone is somewhere on that anxiety spectrum. But it also struck me that he stood up to the bully on the playground, and tried to help the other kids who were being abused. We need more people with that kind of heart — without the pencils, maybe, but his compassion and courage are in short supply these days.
I think the diagnosis is fairly recent, especially pertaining to children. It’s still very misunderstood too, and quite difficult to diagnose in people who’s reactions manifest like my son’s do. The really good thing is that “yes”, he can change his reactions with practice and hard work. That’s why we do so much emotion coaching work with him. Rather than tell him off when he gets mad and does aggressive things, we label the emotion for him at the time. We repeatedly explain to him that the emotion he is really feeling is disappointment (or whatever) and not anger (his default). We explain that what he’s feeling is normal and fine, and that he can have that feeling, then we work on ways to express it without the violence.
He’s already becoming so much more aware of himself and controlling himself much better. This will only improve with age and maturity.
You are right that everyone is on that spectrum somewhere. Anxiety is actually a good thing in many people. It motivates and is a catalyst for change when it’s in a healthy amount. My son just has a chemical imbalance that doesn’t allow him to release that emotional anxiety effectively.
I also agree that we need more people in the world who will stand up to bullies. The thing I find really difficult with my son is that he’s just as likely to be on the bullying side if he’s feeling threatened by someone he thinks is ‘better’ or ‘smarter’ than him, even if they haven’t directly engaged with him in a negative way. He gets in first. It’s something we are also working on with gusto. That, and not bullying people who are different to what he deems to be ‘right’.
Thanks for reading!
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