Effective Anger Management Techniques for Children

A child who frequently explodes in anger may be struggling in a number of ways that can’t all be addressed in a limited space. Everyone is born with a distinct personality. Some children struggle with disabilities that are very difficult to cope with. Others may be reacting negatively to changes in their lives. These or any number of other factors can lead to anger problems in a child.

When trying to figure out a solution to a child’s anger problem, it’s important to consider the root causes first. Scripture also provides us with some overall principles we can apply in our parenting to help our child learn to cope with problems they encounter in life.

Typically, parenting styles that result in angry children lack consistency. For example, parents may be permissive on a day-to-day basis, but become controlling in a time of stress or tension. There are also parents who are more authoritarian but who struggle to positively connect with their kids in the good times or to help them be more independent.

Often, parents alternate between authoritarian and permissive styles of managing their kids, which leads to a frustrated child who can’t rely on clear boundaries. A lack of consistency in leadership and discipline creates a feeling of chaos, which does not help a child to develop coping skills leading to mature adulthood.

Parenting with Love and Logic is a landmark parenting book written by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. The authors juxtapose “the Drill Sergeant” and the “Helicopter Parent” to demonstrate authoritarian vs. overprotective parenting styles.

A Drill Sergeant constantly gives commands and seeks to control their child’s every move, preventing the child from feeling autonomous. This behavior subliminally communicates to a child that they are not smart enough to make any independent decisions.

Meanwhile, the Helicopter Parent hovers over their child constantly, making sure to protect them from any difficulties they may encounter. The message this sends is that a child is not strong enough to survive in the world on their own and that they must always rely on their parent to protect them.

These two styles are examples of extreme parenting on either end. All children need their parents to provide both discipline and protection. It’s important to meet these needs using a balanced approach, rather than a polarized one.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes that fathers are not to exasperate their children, but are instead to discipline and train them in the “instruction of the Lord.” This means that parents should not provoke their children to anger, but instead should teach and train them by exposing them to godly principles for the purpose of building their character.

The authors of Parenting with Love and Logic share four areas of parenting that we can focus on to help our children form their characters. In the same way, we can see in the Bible how God molds and shapes the characters of his people in these areas.

Here are the four areas:

1. Set expectations for behavior
2. Set consequences for failing to meet the expectation
3. Follow through compassionately with a consequence when the expectation is not met
4. Encourage the child to try again

This model seeks to help a child learn from their poor decision-making instead of focusing on how their parents are going to react. Often we see an angry response in children who are trying to be independent but are not being trained how to make their own responsible choices.

This article will discuss how using this parenting approach is a way to model God’s discipline and love for his children.

Creating Expectations

In Deuteronomy 28:13-15, we see that the Lord set his commands in covenant form before his people, and told them what the consequences of obedience and disobedience would be. In this, we see that he has expectations of them to make a choice for obedience, along with the freedom to make that choice.

Since God created us knowing that we would sin against him, he could have taken away our ability to make decisions, but he didn’t, even though we do read in Genesis 6:6 that he was “deeply troubled” that he had created humans.

Sometimes parents struggle with seeing their children more as extensions of themselves rather than individuals in their own right. Because of this, they desire them not to make any of the same mistakes that they made, not to fail in the areas in which they failed, and not to stress them out by making poor choices.

The problem with this mentality is that it is self-centered. In Scripture, we see that God acted for the good of his people, allowing them to learn from their sin, which was also for their ultimate good.

When we set expectations for our children, our goal should be to make those expectations very clear, as well as to make the consequences of disobedience clear. We must remember to consider each child’s current stage of development and what they need to learn at this point in time.

If at this time a child needs to learn to clean up after themselves, there should be a clear expectation that they need to clean their room every day. To ensure that this is clear, a child should be able to explain what that looks like and what the consequence will be if the room is not clean.

Inconsistent parents often set impulsive expectations based on the emotion of the moment. Then the child has to deal with the emotional parent as well as their own personal decisions.

A child who reacts in anger has probably chosen to maintain their own independence instead of remaining connected to their parent(s). They are frustrated by their parent’s emotional expectation-setting and don’t feel that they have the opportunity to make an independent choice to obey, so they control the environment by getting angry.

Instead, what they need is for their parent to help them think through their actions. This starts by setting those clear expectations that are developmentally appropriate.

Delivering Consequences

Consequences can be challenging for a parent to deliver. It’s important not to give a consequence out of an emotional reaction or on the spur of the moment. Consequences are part of training.

A parent who isn’t thinking of the big picture simply reacts to their child’s behavior instead of acting deliberately and intentionally. This is modeling emotional reactivity and ultimately anger for the child. This lack of proper boundaries provokes a child to anger by failing to teach them how to learn from their mistakes.

In Scripture, we see that God disciplines his children out of love and for their good. In Genesis 3:17, Adam fails to accept responsibility for disobeying God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In response, God disciplines Adam by telling him that he will now have to work for the food he eats. In the future, if Adam doesn’t obey by working, he won’t have anything to eat.

Consequences are simply healthy discipline. They are a way to train a child to behave properly by allowing them to experience the results of disobedience. Proverbs 22:15, which refers to the rod driving folly out from the heart of a child, is more than just a lesson on spanking – it also refers to wholehearted discipline.

Angrily spanking a child may not help them learn how to behave well. It may just model anger. The purpose of discipline is not to get revenge on a child for their behavior; it’s to provide a safe environment in which they can learn how to change their behavior by experiencing consequences when they don’t obey.

A child who is allowed to watch television, use electronic devices, or play video games, but does not clean their room until being yelled at repeatedly, is not being taught about the importance of “work before play.” We can see an immediate correlation between this type of parenting and students who fail the first semester of college because there’s no parent to yell at them, and no one has taught them the value of delayed gratification and a good work ethic.

Instead, a child should be taught that the expectations for cleanliness must be met before they are free to enjoy entertainment. This expectation can be clearly set and relies on a logical consequence, not merely anger or a momentary emotional reaction from a parent.

Disciplining a child this way is done out of love. It’s a necessary part of preparing them for adulthood. A needy, permissive parent does not discipline properly because they are worried about their children liking and affirming them. A controlling, reactive parent takes disobedience personally instead of seeing it as their responsibility to train their child.

Empathy and Do-Overs

When a child understands what they are expected to do and exactly what will happen if they don’t do it, they can focus on their own behavior rather than on their parent’s anger. In Jonah 3:10, we read, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

God uses compassionate discipline to bring people to repentance, whether they experience the discipline themselves or see someone else experience it. Through his grace, he allows us to start again after we’ve been disobedient. This is the process of sanctification in the life of a believer.

This is not to say that it’s easy to know when you’re being too harsh vs. too lenient as a parent. Either extreme is not healthy and can provoke a child to anger. To find a balance, make sure to tell your child you love them even as you follow through with a consequence.

Express your disappointment that your child has to experience the negative consequences of their behavior; not because you are personally offended by their behavior, but because you truly want them to enjoy the blessings of obedience.

Always be sure that anger is not used as a tool to try to teach your children how they’ve messed up. Healthy discipline helps a child realize that they are responsible for their own behavior. When they know their parent loves them and has compassion on them, and will give them another chance without defining them by their failures, a child can feel free to reflect on their own choices without shame. Yelling does nothing but cause resentment.

The principles in Parenting with Love and Logic can be tied to principles we find in Scripture about godly, loving discipline. For the first 18 years of their lives, children depend on their parents to learn how to manage their impulses in a constructive way.

If a child is not struggling with a learning or developmental disability, anger problems are possibly a signal that they are frustrated with something in their home environment, and that parents are reacting instead of acting with love.

If you are seeing angry outbursts in your child on a regular basis, let me encourage you to reach out to a licensed christian therapist to help you get to the root of the issue. This can help give you the tools to train your child without exasperating them, providing you with a healthier relationship and a more peaceful home.

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Dealing with a Fear of Abandonment: Symptoms and Solutions

Fear of abandonment is a primal universal fear, as humans were born to be socially connected to one another. At the very start of life, infants are already hardwired to attach to their primary caregivers. The survival of a young infant or even toddler depends entirely on them. If basic needs are not met, then a high level of anxiety is created.

Moreover, should something happen to the caregivers or should the caregivers’ attitudes suddenly change, the child is then no longer able to feel the care as before, causing even more trauma. If this loss (e.g. – the death of a parent, divorce) or change in attitude (e.g. – abuse) is permanent, then the child internalizes the fear of abandonment.

Everyone experiences some form of abandonment, but not everyone’s experience is severe. However, for those who underwent something traumatic, the personal impact can really cripple their life. Without proper treatment, abandonment wounds can severely affect the way a person is able to function. It cripples the way they handle interpersonal relationships and personal joy is sapped.

Fear of Abandonment: Common Causes

Abandonment issues are intense fears of losing someone close to you. They originate from past experiences that left you alone or uncared for. In that past experience, you were made to fend for yourself, developing a distrust of others and a sense of self-pity for not being loved.

Those who have been abandoned feel cut off from what Susan Anderson, an abandonment research expert, calls “life-sustaining support.” She believes it is a “cumulative wound,” meaning that all the negative events of your childhood up to the present are collected and reignited when triggered.

The causes of this are many. The primary ones are connected to problematic parenting, such as:

  • Children who felt deserted because of death, divorce, or being left in the hands of others (e.g. foster care, raised by relatives, even daycare);
  • Children who felt discarded due to physical, emotional or sexual abuse;
  • Children who felt neglected as basic needs were not met for some reason.

There are, however, other forms which are less recognizable but still very impactful, for instance:

  • Children who could not connect to parents who had a mental illness or had addictions;
  • Children who had doubts due to caregivers’ unavailability due to prolonged absences (e.g. out of town trips) or late nights at work;
  • Children who felt ignored as they were left to solve issues on their own without guidance;
  • Children who felt imperfect due to relentless teasing by siblings or other relatives;
  • Children, particularly teens, who felt insecure due to constant criticism;
  • Children who felt isolated due to chronic illnesses or disabilities;
  • Teenagers who felt rejected due to peer rejection, a romantic break-up, or prolonged singleness.

Fear of Abandonment: Common Symptoms

As there are several possible causes of abandonment, here are seven common symptoms of abandonment issues to look out for in yourself or people you know and love.

1. Chronic Insecurities

Abandonment destroys the self-esteem. Though it is not their fault, they often believe it is, thinking that there must be something within that makes them unlovable and worthless. Children are egocentric thinkers and are particularly vulnerable to believing such things, so they grow up thinking that they are not worth respecting and they have this inescapable feeling that if things go wrong in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that they are to blame.

2. Reenacting Trauma

An unfortunate result of childhood abandonment is the possibility of experiencing the same thing in adulthood. Deep inside there is a core belief that, “I will always be abandoned.”

Reenactment is a subconscious effort to resolve trauma. Because of this, suchpersons subconsciously place themselves in situations where abandonment may occur again. They are usually attracted to the “wrong” people despite clear advice from friends against the idea. Such “wrong” people are often reckless, noncommittal, or unavailable so eventually, the relationship stops working.

In other cases, former victims are the ones driving others away by being overly cautious, standoffish, or extremely clingy. Moreover, they may be projecting their insecurities onto their loved one, saying to them, “You will leave me. You do not truly love me.” As they fear being abandoned, they may not want any commitments; they may wish to ensure that those they love cannot escape them, or they are preparing themselves for another loss.

3. Pervasive Unworthiness

Those who have been abandoned experience the raw emotional pain of feeling worthless. They feel undesired and unlovable. Imagining a good life is next to impossible as they do not believe they deserve such.

This unworthiness extends even to their judgments and actions. As they believe that they are not good enough, should anything go wrong, they blame themselves first.

4. Heightened Emotional Sensitivity

The trauma of abandonment affects the brain. They have become extremely emotional to anything that triggers rejection such as criticism, disagreement, exclusion, neglect, or ridicule. Once triggered, they may experience emotional hijacking (a term coined by David Goleman), where the emotional part of the brain takes over the rational side. When this occurs, the person is overpowered by emotions.

5. Distrust

Being rejected by a loved one makes a person feel helpless. Because of this, they grow up realizing that they cannot truly depend upon the people around them since they were hurt already in the past.

To cope with this, those with abandonment wounds may choose to become self-sufficient since they doubt the ability of others to care for them. They may decide to do things themselves and keep others from becoming too close. Such people may portray an aura of toughness and are vigilant and even suspicious of others’ motives.

6. Mood Swings

Abandonment brings about much depression and anxiety. Oftentimes to protect their inner self, victims try to detach themselves from the people and world around them. This, however, causes them to feel empty, lost and alone. Paranoia of loved ones leaving them is another result.

Thus, some become very obsessive and jealous. Anger arises when people are too busy and sometimes this busyness is linked to thoughts of that loved one being with someone else. These people are generally defensive, disconnected, and feel misunderstood.

7. Self-Sabotaging Relationships

This fear of abandonment greatly affects relationships in adulthood as they do not really know what they want or how to achieve it. They desperately cling to people as they are afraid to be left behind and yet they are also afraid to get too close as intimacy scares them.

Intimacy dodgers fear being controlled and then discarded by another. They do not want their heart to be crushed again. Others, however, cannot handle the intimacy. So even if they have found real love, they decide to leave first. In this way, they cannot be fully rejected.

In the end, their life becomes a vicious cycle of love and abandonment.

Christian Counseling for Abandonment Issues

Fear of abandonment can ruin a person’s life, as social connections are either abusive or cut short because of insecurities and anxiety. The good news, however, is that there are ways to overcome it.

If you or a loved one has experienced abandonment, then a Christian counselor San Diego can help to overcome the past, learn to trust again, and accept the truth that you are a wonderful person created by an all-loving God.

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10 Types of Trauma You Might Not Think About

When you think about types of trauma, it’s possible that only a handful of extreme situations might come to mind.

The fact is, everyone experiences trauma in their life in one form or another. Life is inherently uncertain, and you never know what is around the corner. That being said, some have experienced a much greater level of trauma than others. While one person may have been traumatized by an incident of childhood bullying, another person may have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse.

Post-traumatic symptoms can develop following a high-stress and deeply disturbing incident, and this sometimes occurs years later. Though you might have recovered physically from a car crash, for example, you may still find yourself haunted by thoughts that you “could easily have died.”

Ten Common Types of Trauma

In an effort to develop our understanding of trauma, it is worth taking a closer look at ten of the most common types of trauma.

1. Sexual Assault or Abuse

Defined as any type of sexual behavior toward someone that is either unwanted or involuntary, it includes, but cannot be limited to: inappropriate sexual joking, genital contact, fondling, groping, penetration, forced kissing, or exposure to material that is sexually inappropriate. For example, a mother who exposes herself to her adolescent sons, or exposes them to sexually explicit material.

This type of assault or abuse also may include undesired sexual activity between children or internet exploitation. It can also include the sexual exploitation of a minor for sexual gratification by an adult – such as in child pornography or prostitution.

2. Physical Assault or Abuse

Physical assault or abuse constitutes any inflicting of physical harm on someone (beatings, stabbings, shootings, etc.). This includes situations where adults inflict physical harm on children or even when groups of kids attack another child. However, it excludes appropriate spanking, typical sibling rough-housing, and rough play between children or adults of a equivalent age.

3. Emotional Abuse

This may be defined as verbal abuse in the form of insults, violent threats, controlling behavior, bullying, or terrorizing behavior. It may include extreme demands put upon an individual, behavior intended to make a person believe they are going crazy, or forms of emotional neglect that are designed to create a fear of abandonment in the victim (behavior such as shunning or the silent treatment).

4. Neglect

Neglect is defined as failing to provide a person with the care they need. This may be seen in a failure to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, or proper medical care.

Though neglect is typically reported to child protective services, it can actually occur with people of all ages. This failure to provide for a person’s needs when the caregiver is fully able to provide it is termed neglect.

5. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is usually defined as any actual, perceived, or threatened physical or sexual violence, or emotional abuse between adults who are involved in a close or intimate relationship. It can also include any witnesses to incidents of domestic violence and are incapable of intervention. This may include children who are living with parents who are abusive toward each other.

6. Serious Accidents or Illness

These may include traumatic incidents such as automobile accidents, building fires, or severe injury. In the aftermath of such events, the victim may feel extremely emotional. Painful or frightening medical procedures are included under this heading, and children, in particular, may be afraid to undergo such treatments.

7. War-related Trauma

“Post-traumatic stress disorder,” or PTSD has entered the common vocabulary through America’s military endeavors. PTSD can result when someone returns from a combat zone in which they experienced a threat to their life or the injury or death of a fellow soldier. Those who are living in war zones may also experience this type of post-traumatic reaction.

Firefights, executions, and forced displacement are only a few of a number of traumatic experiences commonly endured by refugees who were living in a war zone and have been forced to flee as a result of the violence.

8. Natural or Manmade Disasters

Disasters that are either natural or manmade fall into this category, and may include such things as building fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, or tornadoes, or any other disaster caused either by nature or man.

9. School Violence

School violence has become more prevalent than ever before. It is not uncommon to turn on the news and see that another student has entered their school campus with the goal of killing or otherwise harming other people. These events are highly traumatic for the students involved and may even cause anxiety for those at other schools.

10. Bullying and Workplace Mobbing

When we think of bullying, our minds usually turn to the schoolyard. But this isn’t the only place where such behavior occurs. “Workplace mobbing” can happen in a professional environment and is often described as “bullying on steroids.”

The bully recruits co-workers to “collude in a relentless campaign of psychological terror against a hapless target” (Bullying at Work: Workplace Mobbing is on the Rise by Sophie Henshaw). The targets of workplace mobs are typically competent, resilient, well-educated, and are more likely to be female.

Christian Counseling for Trauma Recovery

There are many different types of situations that can result in trauma. But several highly effective methods of therapy can be used to treat people suffering from trauma. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is one method that is widely used.

If you have gone through a traumatic experience, a trained Christian counselor in San Diego can help you unpack some of the emotional baggage, and will help you to break free.

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11 Common Abandonment Issues in Relationships

If you find yourself often having anxious thoughts about your partner being distant or even leaving you, you may be dealing with some abandonment issues in relationships. Maybe you have a fear of vulnerability and are afraid to reveal too much about yourself because you’ll seem unlovable. Maybe you find yourself making a plan for how to protect yourself if you’re abandoned.

Another way these fears might manifest is if you choose to date one person after another in rapid succession, demonstrating a fear of commitment. In the relationship itself, you might seek constant reassurance, or become overly controlling of your partner’s activities and whereabouts; this is frequently coupled with an attitude of suspicion.

If most of those descriptors remind you of yourself, you might have abandonment issues.

Often, abandonment issues in relationships derive from a significant relationship in your past that failed to meet your needs physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. You may have suffered from abuse, neglect, or chronic absence. This would have happened in a context where you trusted someone to care for you, but instead, they disappointed or rejected you.

A sense of being abandoned includes feeling disconnected, rejected, and deprived of what you need to feel secure. Abandonment is a form of trauma, and you’re left with a fear of losing loved ones and being left on your own to survive. These fears are often subconscious, and you might not realize they’re the driving force for the way you act in future relationships.

11 Abandonment Issues in Relationships

The following are eleven symptoms of abandonment wounds that may have an impact on your relationships today:

1. Lack of Vulnerability

This attitude involves having a guarded outlook on relationships, especially new ones, springing from entrenched trust issues. Individuals with this mentality do not allow others to get close to them, and they don’t reveal their own vulnerability except to those they carefully select. By maintaining their privacy, they feel safe from being rejected.

2. Detachment

This behavior presents as coldness, distance, or being overly independent. Some people with abandonment turn to detachment to cope with the pain they’ve experienced in the past. Detachment goes hand in hand with a lack of commitment. A lack of commitment means you can’t be abandoned, and no one can hurt you.

Detachment is a sort of counter-dependence. It’s not giving yourself permission to need another person or depend on them. It’s a way to retain a sense of power, but it ultimately results in loneliness and isolation.

3. Clinginess

Another form abandonment issues can take is overwhelming clinginess or neediness. This might include sharing far too much about yourself very early on in a friendship or relationship or ignoring warning signs of dysfunction.

Once in a relationship, the clingy person will constantly want to be reassured and given lots of attention. They can seem overly exacting and difficult, and they usually fixate on one person whom they expect to meet all of their needs.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the target of their clinginess cannot handle the person’s overwhelming neediness, so ends up rejecting them.

4. Difficulty Feeling Love

Another symptom of abandonment issues is difficulty with feeling attached and loving to someone. This person will often be out of touch with their own emotions and may seem generally disengaged from people and experiences.

They may try to avoid being comforted physically or emotionally (for example, being hugged or complimented). They try to hide their true selves, which prevents them from bonding with their loved ones. If they want something from their partner like more physical affection, instead they put their defense mechanisms and pretend they don’t care.

5. Controlling Behavior

Abandonment correlates with a feeling of unpredictability and people who have been abandoned often seek to control every detail so they feel their lives are safe and predictable. Every situation feels one step away from being dire or drastic. Everything needs to go the way they’ve planned, or they feel anxious. In relationships, this can present as being micromanaging.

Sometimes subtle manipulation is used, such as making indirect comments or suggestions in an attempt to control one’s partner or using emotional blackmail to keep your partner in the relationship.

Often, this person is always thinking a step ahead and tries to maintain a facade of perfection to control what people think of them.

Whether subtle or overt, manipulation tactics can become a normal part of this type of relationship, and they’re used to make the partner stay with them and love them. The more conflict there is in the relationship, the more the controlling behaviors increase.

6. Negative Core Beliefs

Those with abandonment issues may have trouble keeping problematic circumstances in perspective; instead, they catastrophize events or possibilities in their minds. If someone is late to meet them, they’ll feel like the friendship is ending. If they sense even a hint of disapproval, they’ll jump to extremes such as, “I’m stupid. I’m always wrong.” If they have any type of argument or disagreement, they’ll think the other person hates them.

These types of thinking patterns are an automatic response to traumatic experiences. Other examples might be: “Everyone will eventually leave me. I can survive on my own; it’s better not to trust other people. I don’t deserve to be loved. I have to work really hard for others to like me. I can’t live without this person. Everything is my fault; why do I mess everything up?”

7. Searching for Flaws

This issue happens when the person has a running list of their partner’s flaws, mistakes, or offenses. The more they can prove something’s wrong with their partner, the less close they’ll feel. This can be seen in a tendency to demand perfection from others because perfection will reassure them that the relationship is safe.

Not only that, but people with abandonment issues often demand perfection from themselves as well. They don’t want others to judge them, so they try to act perfect in their relationship to compensate for their deeply held belief that they themselves are unworthy of love and fundamentally flawed.

8. Fear of Intimacy

Self-sabotage is a frequent issue in these types of relationships, either in smothering behavior that results in anxiety when the two of you are apart or by completely letting go and not being healthfully interdependent.

Self-sabotage can also take the form of purposefully getting involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, knowing that you will probably be abandoned eventually.

This may seem highly counterintuitive and difficult for outsiders to understand, but this behavior is simply a way of avoiding genuine intimacy. Intimacy is scary because it requires vulnerability. And vulnerability can lead to being rejected (again).

So people who fear abandonment learn how to turn off their emotions, and this behavior becomes so normal to them that it can happen involuntarily (such as shutting down physically during sex).

Fear drives out love. You will find yourself unable to bond with your partner because you’re holding on to them so tightly, or already expecting that they will leave you.

9. Weak Boundaries

Going out of their way to comply with their partner’s every wish or perceived desire, someone with this abandonment issue will suppress their own needs to try to make their partner happy. Codependency and fear of abandonment are often closely correlated.

The codependent may linger in a destructive relationship, making excuses for how their partner behaves and treats them, and taking on the responsibility for meeting others’ needs and rescuing them from the consequences of their actions.

A strong sense of guilt often pervades the codependent person’s mind and emotions. If something goes wrong in their relationships, they blame themselves. They feel like have they to prove that they are worthy of the relationship, and because they’re so desperate not to lose their partner, they end up losing themselves instead.

10. Isolation

An individual may fear rejection so strongly that they end up hiding from relationships. They may feel like an outsider who is always misunderstood. They withdraw to protect themselves from exposure, criticism, or lack of love. Since they already feel inferior, they can’t take more rejection. But this sadly prevents them from the opportunity to have healthy friendships or relationships.

11. Being Overly Sensitive

Overreactions and defensiveness are a common response to the paranoia that everyone you love will eventually leave you. Rejection becomes a specter hanging over the person’s head.

If someone points out their flaws, they immediately interpret it as being rejected for who they are. Refusing to accept negative feedback allows the person to cope with their huge feelings of insecurity.

Christian Counseling for Abandonment Issues in Relationships

Imagine if you could be free to be yourself, and to base your behavior on love instead of fear. Imagine truly trusting someone else without fixating on the possibility of rejection. Talking to a counselor can help you become aware of the ways your fear of abandonment is damaging your current life and relationships.

By going to therapy, you’ll have a chance to unlock the hurts of your past so you can move beyond them to a place of freedom, and be able to experience intimacy without fear. You’ll be able to refute lies with the truth, and gain deliverance from a lifestyle of emotional torment.

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Overcoming the Paralyzing Effects of Social Anxiety

Humans are designed for connection. We thrive when we are involved in healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. Yet, for some, the idea of connecting with another person incites a wave of panic.

People battling social anxiety disorder are often terrified to meet new people, are afraid of being judged negatively by others and the consuming fear of potential embarrassment rules their thoughts. As a result, this anxiety can interfere with going to work, attending school, or doing everyday tasks.

It’s normal and expected to have a little dose of anxiety and fear in situations that warrant it. If you are lying in a tent and hear a grizzly bear rummaging around in your camp, chances are you’ll hear the thunderous sounds of your heartbeat, feel the sweat begin to form on your palms and sense a tightness in your muscles. You are experiencing the body’s fight, flight or freeze response to the perceived threat.

On the other hand, you know anxiety has become more harmful than helpful when you become consumed by fear even thinking about going to a friend’s wedding and having to interact with a swarm of strangers. Having a survival response triggered when it’s not needed can become exhausting and interfere with a person’s quality of life.

Management Tools for Overcoming Social Anxiety

Diagnosis of social anxiety disorder requires the fear to have persisted for six months or more. Some people with social anxiety disorder find ways to navigate those anxious situations but do so with crippling anxiety. The goal is to learn management tools for the anxiety to prevent it from overriding the ability to function in a social setting.

Own Your Recovery Plan

Recovery is possible but usually requires some outside help. Powerful first steps getting counseling, reading up on the variety of treatment options available, and recruiting your friends and family to support you.

Here are a few popular management techniques for those facing social anxiety disorder.

Learn to Relax

Some people are more sensitive to their environment. For an individual who experiences more intense feelings, there is a higher probability of allowing their feelings to overwhelm them in threatening contexts.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where social anxiety disorder originates. Some say it’s a part of their family history while others trace it to emotional scars left by past negative social encounters. Such individuals are more likely to avoid certain social situations, which only makes the anxiety worse.

Relaxation training is designed to decrease the physical responses of your body during the fight, flight, or freeze response. Relaxation can help create opportunities to perform at our best levels.

Types of training for relaxation include yoga, focused abdominal breathing, guided imagery and progressive relaxation of the muscles. Performing these exercises once a month, won’t create long-lasting change. Taking twenty minutes a day to practice relaxing will make it more of a natural reflex.

Retrain Your Brain

Our thoughts inevitably become woven into our actions. Pay attention to the thoughts that ricochet through your mind before or during a social activity that prompts anxiety. The greater the degree of negative thought, the greater the avalanche of anxiety that occurs.

A person suffering from social anxiety disorder might think to themselves, “People will think I’m an idiot if I speak at my friend’s wedding tonight,” and they will likely feel sufficient anxiety to prevent them from making a speech. The intensity of one’s thoughts is directly related to the intensity of one’s feelings.

Thoughts must be reined in and changed to reflect a more positive outcome. Instead of thinking, “People will think I’m an idiot if I speak at my friend’s wedding tonight,” you can change your thoughts to, “My friend will treasure the memory of me speaking at her wedding tonight.” The goal is to lower anxiety levels, so the person feels the liberty to participate in a previously avoided situation.

Philippians 4:8 gives us some clues on how to structure our thinking. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

You can ask yourself a few questions to align with this verse:

Do my thoughts match the truth in God’s Word?

Are these thoughts pure and lovely?

Would I praise my current thoughts?

Take a moment to process your thoughts and look for an avenue for clarity. After asking yourself the questions above, articulate a thought that is more balanced and then speak it out loud to yourself. At first, this may be tough to do because our mind is a battlefield. Through Christian counseling, people suffering from social anxiety disorder will learn to change core beliefs that impede their day-to-day functioning.

Face Your Fears

Phobias are a result of becoming overly sensitized. The sufferer comes to relate a given stimulus to anxiety. Let’s take public speaking as an example. If a person avoids public speaking, she feels better because she gets rid of her anxiety. The more she avoids public speaking, the more intense the anxiety will be when she is faced with the having to engage in public speaking. Like riding a bike, the more you practice the better you become.

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to create new neural connections over the course of one’s life. Though anxiety can become hardwired into a person’s brain, the brain can be “re-wired” by facing fears.

Edmund Bourne, Ph.D. in his “Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” describes it like this:

“Exposure is the process of unlearning the connection between anxiety and a particular situation. For exposure to occur, you need to enter a phobic situation directly, letting your anxiety rise and enduring the anxiety for a period of time to learn that you can actually handle your anxiety in a situation you’ve been accustomed to avoiding. The point is to 1) unlearn a connection between a phobic situation (such as driving on the freeway) and an anxiety response, and 2) gain confidence in your ability to handle the situation regardless of whether anxiety comes up. Repeatedly entering the situation will eventually allow you to overcome your previous avoidance.”

How do you eat a big meal? One bite a time. The same applies to overcoming anxiety. Begin by exposing yourself to the fear-inducing situation in small increments. So suppose that the fear is public speaking. A first step could be to imagine addressing a large crowd, all the while substituting positive thoughts in place of negative ones.

Once you’ve mastered that step, you can practice your speech in front of a mirror or camera. After that, speak in front of a small group of trusted friends or family. Finally, you are ready to speak at that staff meeting. These are confidence-building steps to overcome a debilitating fear of public speaking. You are rewiring your brain one step at a time.

Assertive Communication

Anxiety can cause people to lose their voice. Naturally, people with anxiety don’t always want to speak up. They rather tuck their heads into their shells. Being honest about your feelings and sounds hard, to the point that keeping them to yourself seems the easy way out.

Assertive communication is a clear and honest mode of self-expression. You advocate for your needs while respecting the needs of the other person. Assertive communication can help you break down communication into easily digestible chunks.

Assertive communication includes discovering what you really need, describing the way things are, opening up about your feelings, clearly stating what you want, and giving solid reasons why others should cooperate with the request.

For example, let’s say that I’m upset with a sibling who constantly borrows my clothes, but never returns them. The first step should be to understand what I really need. In this case, it would be “trust.” I gave something of value of mine, without it being returned as promised.

Now that the “need” is sorted out, I should take time to speak to my friend and describe the situation as it stands in a calm, collected manner. “Susan, I noticed that I’ve allowed you to borrow my clothes five different times, and you never returned the items.” If your feelings are hurt you can explain further, “I trusted you to return my favorite sweater and it frustrates me when it doesn’t happen.” Finally, add any requests or positive reasons for cooperation: “I need you to return my clothes when you promise or at least communicate with me if there’s a problem. This helps to build trust so that I can continue to share my favorite clothes with you.”

If Susan cares about the friendship, she will most likely apologize and return the borrowed items. This is a small example of leveraging assertive communication in common conversations. To become successful at assertive communication, it’s a best practice to learn the process and practice role-playing with a supportive person first. Before football players win the game, they spend hours practicing. It makes a difference in being more confident in social situations.

The above actions give you some idea of what can be done when anxiety attacks. Of course, anxiety is more complex than what can be covered in one article. If you are struggling with social anxiety disorder, find a Christian counselor you can trust to create a tailored recovery plan for you. Not only is recovery possible, but you can even thrive in social settings.

Photos
“Afraid,” courtesy of Joseph Gonzalez, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stretch,” courtesy of Jacob Postuma, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Worried,” courtesy of Eneas De Troya, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Worried,” courtesy of Had Limcaco, unsplash.com, CC0 License

3 Excuses People Make for Having an Affair

When we think of a married person having an affair, we think of lack of integrity. Some may consider adultery to be caused by a spouse falling out of love or failing to provide the love that is deserving or satisfying in a marriage.

However, Jesus tells us that “…out of the heart come evil thoughts…adultery, sexual immorality…” (Matt. 15:19). So the real question is, “What is in your heart?” Are you the sort of person who tries to blame their sin on others? In short, are you a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker?

Excuses People Make for Having An Affair

1. My spouse doesn’t look good anymore.

There are some who believe that when wives “let themselves go” they are to blame, in part, for the adulterous behavior of their husbands. However, first, one should consider the reasons that these wives “let themselves go.”

Is there something happening in the marriage that causes these women not to feel the need to look nice anymore? Typically, wives do not simply stop trying to look good because they have “caught” a husband and think that he is now obligated to stay in the marriage despite how they may look.

They may be less motivated to present themselves to the best of their ability for other reasons. Perhaps they are too exhausted with the demands of a marriage or family to put forth the effort.

They also may feel that their husband does not appreciate their efforts anymore. Whatever the case may be, reacting to marital neglect with passive aggression should not be the solution to the problem. Out of respect for the marriage covenant, wives ought to do whatever it takes to strengthen their relationship with their husband.

This is no less true for husbands. Next time you feel the temptation to place the blame and responsibility for your own sinful actions on your wife’s failure to conform to your own (probably worldly) standards of beauty, ask yourself what you are doing wrong in the marriage that makes them not care about taking care of their looks for you anymore.

2. I feel better than I have in years.

There is a reason why many think this way. The passion and romance that you first experienced at the beginning of your relationship were never meant to last, though you ought to still feel a sense of attraction and feel affectionate toward your spouse even after many years of marriage. Even so, this feeling may not be as intense as it was in the beginning.

You may get a thrill from watching this new person walk into the room, as opposed to your spouse. Basic biology can be to blame for this. Researchers have amply demonstrated that the exhilaration of infatuation lasts less than two years. Those same exciting sensations that you may have with this interloper will eventually die down in the same way that they did in your marriage. The cycle repeats itself.

Even though you get the ego boost of falling in love with someone new, this feeling is nothing in comparison with the deep satisfaction of knowing and being known by your spouse for who you truly are and unconditionally loved.

A marriage can reveal a person’s true colors when they are at their worst. Each may know their spouse’s strengths and weaknesses and yet still commit to each other entirely.

This type of love will not be entirely without passion, but the passion won’t rank as high on the scale as it once did in the beginning. The early fiery romantic love cannot be compared to the love that is strengthened through struggle and everything that you have been through together.

3. I don’t love them anymore

It should be noted at the outset that love is only about 5% feeling and 95% commitment. Though it may be shocking to think about, some spouses remain in their marriage because they made a covenant with their spouse before God and firmly intend to hold true to their promise.

Emotions will wax and wane over the course of your marriage and some days you may not like your spouse as much as you do on other days.

Situations change, and the stresses of life can be overwhelming in a marriage that cannot seem to navigate through what this life throws at them. However, that doesn’t mean you stop loving each other.

What if the feeling has faded?

Keep covenant and love them! Continue with the same loving acts that you did at the beginning of your marriage, in spite of any whatever feelings you be lacking. You may not feel like being as loving, tender, ready to please, or sympathetic as you once where, however, your actions should reflect these feelings, even when you do not have them.

Showing that you understand and are forgiving and helpful will get you through the flat times in your marriage and will render these times infrequent and less intense. Correspondingly, your feelings will become more consistent. All of this will be a result of deciding to love through it all.

It doesn’t require a lot of faith to serve someone that you love. Christ served others on this earth, despite ridicule, persecution, and death. His love for us was still strong throughout it all, and most importantly, forgiving.

“You see, at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Matt. 5:6-8 NIV)

Christian Counseling for Adultery

It is no accident that the Bible ties adultery very closely to idolatry. Adultery is essentially the worship of a false god. The passion that God intended for marriage and commitment is shared with one without bowing the knee to the one whom we were called to love. It is also covenant-breaking of the first order. It is intimacy without commitment and a soul-damning alternative to the work implicit in the marriage relationship.

Let a professional Christian counselor help you and your spouse restore intimacy, trust, and healing to your marriage.

Photos
“Girl with Copper Hair,” courtesy of tintenfieber, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Young Girl Crossing Hands,” courtesy of Splitshire.com, AMANDR 20160413 SplitShire-6661-2; “Thinking,” courtesy of Jaelynn Castillo, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “For Better or For Worse,” courtesy of Thomas Curryer, unsplash.com, Public Domain License

Common Symptoms of ADHD and Effective Treatment Options

A child bolts around the classroom even after repeated directions to remain seated. He has verbal outbursts and constantly interrupts other students who are talking. This child could be displaying forms of ADHD.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) considers ADHD “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” People with ADHD may show both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, or one may dominate.

Symptoms of ADHD

The NIH breaks ADHD down into three types: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD affects millions of children and often carries over into adulthood. Symptoms may decrease but are usually present to some degree.

Here are a few symptoms to look for to help recognize if you, or someone you know, has ADHD.

ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation:

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Finds paying attention challenging
  • Struggles to listen
  • Rarely follows through with given instructions
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring consistent mental effort
  • Regularly loses belongings
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation:

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
  • Has difficulty remaining seated
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
  • Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside as if they are driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns Interrupts or intrudes upon others

If the individual meets the criteria for both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive she has combined ADHD presentations. Children with ADHD can face more challenging scenarios in life.

Finding it hard to focus in the classroom or to sit still can lead to poor academic performance. Some teachers and students may even pass judgment on a child with ADHD. Some peers and adults will refuse to accept a child with ADHD because of their behavior, which can result in low self-esteem.

How to Treat ADHD

ADHD does not need to be left untreated. Many therapies and methods exist to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve the quality of life.

1. Behavior therapy

Teachers and parents can implement behavioral strategies to give consistency and establish clear rules in the home and school environment. A token reward system is one strategy to use to give positive and negative feedback. If instructions or a task are completed a marble goes into the jar. If a task is not completed, two marbles are taken out. A reward is given based on the number of marbles in the jar at the end of the day.

2. Psychotherapy

Older children with ADHD can benefit from psychotherapy. Itcreates an environment where they can express their frustrations, explore behavior patterns and come up with solutions to combat their symptoms.

3. Parenting skills training

A young child with ADHD needs overwhelming support from his family. Often, the child might feel ridiculed at school. It’s important to create a safe place at home by learning your child’s behaviors and how you can react.

4. Family therapy

Not every member of the family might be as understanding of the one with ADHD. Setting aside time to meet with a family therapist will help manage stress levels. The child needs to know he is loved and accepted by the family.

5. Social skills training

Learning proper social behaviors will help children assimilate into the classroom culture.

6. Relaxation exercises

Never underestimate the power of relaxation. Trying different yoga exercise or forms of breathing can help a child with ADHD calm down.

7. Modified diet

For those with ADHD, most experts suggest a modified diet which involves eliminating foods thought to increase hyperactivity, such as sugar, and common allergens such as wheat, milk, and eggs. Some diets recommend avoiding artificial food colorings and additives. Caffeine use as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have adverse effects and is not recommended in the diet.

8. Exercise

Encourage children to move. Not only is exercise a massive health benefit, regular exercise may have a positive effect on behavior in children with ADHD when added to treatment.

What Should Christians Know About ADHD and its Treatment?

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States continues to rise. Turning to forms of medication for ADHD has taken families and schools by storm to such an extent that kids are routinely referred for psychiatric care. Most people default to the idea the child has a brain disease and needs medication to cure a chemical imbalance.

Not every doctor agrees that medication is the course to follow for a child with ADHD. Dr. Leon Eisenberg, known as the scientific father of ADHD, viewed ADHD as a fictitious diagnosis which consists only of identifying a list of behavioral symptoms. Indeed, a medical diagnosis does not seem to capture the essence of this problem and is too simple an answer to a complicated issue.

Christians often contemplate the use of ADHD medication for children. Some believe medication used during the younger years will become a gateway drug in the future or have adverse side effects to their child’s development.

Medication is not always the answer, especially for such a complex issue like ADHD. Here are a few practices Christians can put in place to help their child struggling with ADHD.

Become the advocate

Your child will need to know he has your support no matter what. Become his voice at school to ensure teachers are working toward your child’s success as well. Often, children with ADHD are alienated or seen as a nuisance. You can become a part of a team that decides what kind of services the school has in place for children with ADHD.

Boost self-esteem

Constant negative feedback can take a toll on a child’s confidence. Just imagine if you were in a setting where almost everything you did was seen as wrong or bad. Set aside special time during the day for one-on-one connection. Notice how your child is gifted and nurture that gift.

Praise every success

Notice and give praise for your child’s success, no matter how small it might seem to you. Encouragement can work wonders, especially if the child is accustomed to negative comments. It takes even more praise to reverse the effects of negative feedback.

Christians should take time to perform their own research about treatment plans for ADHD. Every family must make an individual choice of whether medication is the right next step for their child.

Impulsive and inattentive children need parental love, guidance, and discipline before any type of medical intervention. Christian counselors in San Deigo can help navigate behaviors and create different strategies to implement during daily interactions with children with ADHD.

Photos
“Can’t Study,” courtesy of amenclinicsphotos ac, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “School,” courtesy of amenclinicsphotos ac, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Medication,” courtesy of jarmoluk, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Street scene,” courtesy of London Scout, unsplash.com, CC0 License