After posting on the parental ‘protection trap’ for childhood anxiety in yesterday’s blog, I came across this opinion piece by Eli Lebowitz of the Yale Child Study Center: Terrified Tyrants
Eli is an expert on childhood anxiety and author of the book referenced in yesterday’s blog post, Treating Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Caregivers. In the Huffington Post piece, he quotes a parent who characterizes their 13-year old son with OCD as the tyrant of the household. “It was like living with a mad dictator. Every day he’d come up with some new whim or rule and if we didn’t go along he’d have a meltdown.”
Unfortunately, Eli’s examples of family members going to extreme lengths to accommodate children with anxiety are all too typical. As the piece makes clear, children like Zack may be tyrants who make life unbearable for others in the family. But they themselves are terrified.
Helping children with anxiety isn’t a matter of protecting them from their fears, but rather of giving acceptance and support to help them face and master fear.
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