Sharon Selby is a registered clinical counselor who has put in 9,500 clinical hours working with children, teens and families. She specializes in parenting, discipline, sibling rivalry, childhood anxiety, social skill difficulties, low self-esteem and defiance. She has two beautiful children, ages 12 and 10, and hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sharon has always enjoyed working with children and supporting them. She was previously an elementary school teacher, but she wanted to help more people outside of the classroom. She went back to school for her masters in counselling psychology and has been counselling now for 17 years.
“It’s very challenging, but very rewarding”
She believes that children are experiencing more anxiety in this generation than previous generations, due to a combination of factors including a shift in parenting styles. Sharon states that society is also breeding more sensitive children, who are raised to be more anxious.
It’s natural for parents to try to rescue their children and try to make them happy all the time. According to Sharon, it can be painful when you see your child having painful emotions and feeling uncomfortable about things.
“If we don’t let our kids experience distress, they’re never going to learn how to handle it”
Sharon shares that left untreated, anxiety can turn into depression.
Parents have a right to be cautious, but should let their child have experiences that their parents had as kids, like going on family hikes and crossing over a creek.
“We want them to be safe, but we want to empower them”
It is key to have a strong relationship with all of your children, so you’re able to guild them in life. Parents should help them to learn respect for others, and themselves. Validation of a child’s feelings by parents is crucial.
“We want our children to express their emotions to us. That’s how they’re going to learn to handle those big waves of emotion that can feel overwhelming.”
Highly sensitive children absorb everything through the pores of their body; they feel everything and read other people’s moods. For this reason, parents have to watch every tone and gesture.
By validating their thoughts and concerns, you show that you’re listening to them and understanding their concerns. Sharon says that if you try to move into the logical problem-solving piece of the conversation right away, the child’s brain won’t comprehend.
Telling your kids to “toughen up” isn’t the best way to cultivate emotional resilience in our kids. Sharon says by not over-protecting our children, we will build their resilience, but she warns listeners to not overdo this. She recommends exposing children to new experiences in “small doses”, which is called exposure therapy.
“It’s all about trust. They’ll keep that trust even when they’re teenagers.”
Children need to here about traumatic events such as terrorist attacks from parents, not the television or other sources. Sharon advises parents to talk with children, allow them to ask questions and be truthful with them, while limiting the details they don’t need to know.
www.SharonSelby.com/Gift (access to a free two-part video course on developing emotionally resilient children)