If you struggle with emotions of anxiety, fear, or panic for known or unknown reasons, or are a parent with a child who struggles with irrational fears and anxiety, this blog series is for you. I fall into the category of parent. My child is prone to worry, fear, and irrational panic attacks that can be slowly built up to or come on like the flip of a switch. While this topic is much broader than one blog can cover, I wanted to share some quick tips I’ve learned in the heat of the battle that have been a TREMENDOUS help in those moments of panic in a series of blogs to which I will link below as they post. And before I forget, I have a gift for you at the end.
First off, logic and reason are thrown out the window when a panic attack occurs. My logic-based way of thinking was totally useless when my daughter started these episodes of panic and I thought I could just tell her she was fine. When I couldn’t talk my child out of her worry and irrational fear I was totally left at a loss for what to. One incidence in particular was a breakthrough moment for us.
Many of her panic attacks occur before bedtime. This particular night she was certain everything in her room turned into a scary monster the moment the lights turned off. But it inspired me to point out the lies in her head, which led to a beautifully empowering conversation of faith that built confidence in her overall demeanor.
Here’s how it went……
Seven year-old girl tells me everything is scary. This is obviously not true, but she’s not hearing any of it because to her it absolutely IS true. So I point out that her pillow is not scary, her stuffy is not scary, etc, etc. To which she did agree, but still insisted everything is scary. So once again I pointed out this is a lie, and then I said, “Do you know where these lies in your head are coming from?”
She shook her head no.
“They come from the devil. He whispers these things of nonsense to keep you scared because he’s like a naughty brother trying to make you upset. He does this because he knows if he can keep you afraid of silly things like your toy horse barn, he can control you and keep you from being your best self. But, you’re the daughter of a King, and the devil is not allowed here. Did you know that just saying the name of Jesus makes the devil scream and run away scared?”
She shook her head with a smile now on her tear-soaked face.
I continued, “So, whenever you feel scared….you just say ‘get away satan! Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior now and forever!’ And, that naughty devil HAS TO run away and leave you alone. Should we try it?”
She eagerly nodded YES!
So we said the words together and I kid you not, a weight lifted from BOTH our shoulders.
She went further with it and confidently said, “the devil has no control over me! He is not allowed near me!”
The energy in the room was lightened and we both went to sleep with a smile. Once again, my faith had saved me.
Sometime later, we were having a rather cheerful bedtime routine where I tucked the kids in with the usual hug and kiss goodnight after saying some prayers. My daughter forgot “this”, and then she forgot “that”, and then she forgot to go potty, so went to do that, and in an instant her bubbliness flipped to panic where she can’t catch her breath and the tears start to flow and she can’t even speak to tell me what’s wrong, and I was just like “not again! What could possibly be wrong now?” In my head of course.
Again, logic and reason weren’t being heard. I knew most of the issue was being over-tired. It was past a decent bedtime, and I was totally to blame for that, but HOW WAS I GOING TO STOP THIS MADNESS AND GET SOME SLEEP!
It popped into my head to tell her Jesus loves her. That caught her attention enough to hear me and be perceptive to what I was saying, so I had her say it too….and it was hard for her. It was hard for a 7-year-old girl who loves Jesus to say the words, “Jesus loves me.” That didn’t seem right to me. It was like something had a hold of her preventing her from saying it, so I stayed persistent. I kept repeating, “Jesus loves you. Say Jesus loves me” over and over. You might be thinking I’m crazy right now, but it was amazing to watch. She’d start to say “Je-“ and crying would take over.
Try again, “Jes-“ more crying.
When she got the word “Jesus” out, she started squirming like she does when she’s nervous, being all wiggly like something was stirring inside her.
And finally…..she got the whole thing out, a broken “Jesus loves me.” And I kid you not, she wiggled and squirmed and suddenly a calm came over her and her violent crying turned into soft sniffles. We said it again together a few more times for good measure. Each time the sniffling getting less and less and a smile appeared. It was like the whole thing never happened. She giddily jumped into bed. I kissed her goodnight and she was off to dreamland…and so was I.
I’m sure this sounds kinda crazy to some, especially if you’re not real connected to your faith. I probably wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t experienced it firsthand myself, watching these transformations in her right before my very eyes…on more than one occasion. But I assure you, spiritual battles are real, whether they are triggered by exhaustion or legit fear. A 5-second prayer can do wonders for the soul, for the atmosphere, and for everyone else involved.
So, my #1 tip to stop a panic attack is to pray. Find a prayer that works for you. Pray to St. Michael, say the Our Father, simply tell the devil to get away in the name of Jesus Christ. IT WORKS! Whether you’re a believer or not, find a simple prayer for your situation. It’s so easy, yet so effective.
I find tools such as prayer journals and scripture-based coloring books to be super therapeutic. I just write out my thoughts and have a conversation with God through the pen. It’s amazing how you can feel His presence and even have Him guide your pen. The simple act of writing your thoughts on paper is a great way to release them or sort them out. My toughest decisions have been discerned through journaling at our church in Adoration. Just sitting in the quiet presence of God is grounding and good for the soul.
I hope this was inspirational and helpful to you in your situation. If you have any helpful tips that have worked for you, I’d love it if you shared them with me. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child…..it takes a village to do life well, and that’s what Savvy Living is all about.
Jesus loves you friend!