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Mind Over Matter: Anxiety & Discipline

02 May 2018  

Anxiety should not be ignored, but there are methods to help.

In this column, Dr. Elaine Kissel answers your questions; helping to provide understanding and insight into a variety of topics, such as addictions, self-improvement, depression and much more. You can send in your questions to

Q. My anxiety sometimes overwhelms me and I find myself wanting to take extra meds to get relief because they don't work well for me. No therapy has worked for me either. What should I do?

A. Not knowing you, your history etc. I cannot suggest anything in particular. I'd need to know you very well and the cause of your anxiety, and what has been done so far to relieve you.

If you have suffered extreme stress for a long period that could be the cause, or if you have had a traumatic experience you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). In that case you need a therapeutic process that will heal you on all levels of consciousness. Talk therapy cannot do that. Most medications simply address symptoms, not the causes. There are many non-drug techniques, i.e. guided imagery for example that can relieve symptoms.

The reasons so many people suffer anxiety these days is largely due to the focus by newscasters on what is unsettling that is going on in the world. Media headlines about the horrors of war and the social unrest, terrorism, school and other mass murders, political upheavals everywhere cause, if not conscious, subconscious anxiety. The local news media’s focus is on tragedies, local crime etc. along with that the day to challenges people face in their lives equals stress overload equals anxiety. Many people have serious personal concerns that cause stress and anxiety, for example, illness in the family, addictions, work and relationship issues.These all contribute to anxiety and all of its distressing symptoms.

I would always recommend developing healthy stress management techniques. Also tune out the media news casts and information that does not immediately or directly affect you and focus on what is good in your life. Don't let yourself get caught up in continuous arguments about the same issues. Learn to disagree agreeably. Inner conflicts too can cause anxiety, so it’s wise to seek methods to resolve those on the deepest levels of mind.

And very importantly, make sure you take time to relax and let go at least a few times a day. That is, un-stress. Learn to access your inner resources for calm.

Q. I have a friend whose methods of declining her children is harsh and feel cruel. She says I am too lenient and soft with my children. How can a person know what’s a perfect way to discipline a child?

A. The word discipline is in most people’s associations is a form of punishment. However, it needs to be a form of education, guidance and training toward appropriate behavior. The most sensible and safe is the gentlest and consistent.

All too many people come to me with profound psychological issues that are a result of various forms of abuse dealt out as punishment; their parent’s forms of discipline. Often causing PSTD and other serious emotional disorders and negative consequences.

Each child’s response to discipline styles is different. His or her personality and sensitivity levels needs to be considered, learning styles and more. Parents need to consider which is the safest and most effective method for each child. That’s a learning experience for the parents too. What works for one child may not work for another for many reasons.

Physical forms of discipline vary in degree. So do verbal ones. However, anything that causes pain, physical or emotional will always have negative consequences. If the child is able to talk, sitting down with him or her and having a two-way conversation about the misbehavior can be very effective, and definitely its best for the child to not be made to feel ashamed and belittled. The child needs to know this is a learning experience. Make it a win win situation.The communication is best in a form of advisement and the reasons the behavior was wrong or inappropriate, and to never do it again would work in most cases. If repetition of the offence is an issue, it may be that the method of discipline is ineffective, and there needs to be a deeper understanding of how the child is processing the experience of reprimand and work from there.

Some children are more difficult to raise, sometimes they will automatically rebel against discipline of any kind. In that case, professional help would be advisable.

Regarding your friends discipline style, I doubt she would agree with you. Many parents mimic their own parents style of discipline, even though it was painful and degrading. On the other hand, many mothers and fathers who have had such punishments will go to the other extreme.

Your friend’s childhood may be an influence. However, to argue on such matters is often useless and could create conflict. It depends how important your friendship is to you. If you truly feel and have evidence of abuse, it would be wise to report it to Child Protective Services.

BTW, I have often said, how strange it is that people have to have a license to get married but not to become parents. Proper preparation for child raising ought to be a matter of fact in society. Also to make sure that a parent does not have psychological issues that could negatively impact their children.