Anxiety and Children: The Powerful Concept of ANTs

If you have had issues with anxiety and children, you know how challenging it can be. As the parent of a daughter with a tendency towards anxiety, I have been so grateful for the work of Dr. Daniel Amen. His powerful ants concept has helped me to teach my daughter how to ward off those anxious thoughts that, if left unchecked, can lead to a fullblown anxiety disorder.

Amen is a psychiatrist and physician, who has numerous popular books on the brain, and how to optimize this pivotal human organ. I have personally benefited tremendously from his work, as well as enjoyed sharing some of his tips to clients and on my blog. Today I wanted to share an example of how powerful his work can help you deal with your child’s anxious thoughts.

My daughter is one of a large and growing number of kids who have a tendency towards anxiety. Thanks to Dr. Amen’s powerful ANT (automatic negative thoughts) concept, I have been able to help her deal with her anxious thoughts quickly and easily. Every time I’m able to help her through a moment or a situation by using his ideas, I am deeply grateful for the years of pain that she is being spared.

Last night, as we were lying in bed talking before she went to sleep, Lauren wondered out loud if she was ready for her impending theatrical debut. I asked if she was feeling a bit anxious, and she agreed. I reminded her that ANTs, or automatic negative thoughts will tend to show up at these times.

We all know that when an ant shows up at a picnic, it is never just one ant. They call their friends and have a feast. Part of the genius of Amen’s analogy is the fact that automatic negative thoughts also tend to grow and multiply, just like that first ant at the picnic turns into a horde. Kids and adults find the description easy to grasp and remember.

We’ve discussed this idea so many times that all I had to say was that ANTs are common in this situation. With her fears normalized and understood, she went to calmly off to sleep. I imagine tonight she’ll have more ANTs show up because it is now the night before her debut. That means an even greater cause for excitement, some of which will manifest as anxiety, at least for awhile. However, she knows how to manage the ANTs, so she will be able to minimize the discomfort.

Most of my energy right now is going to booking great experts like Dr. Daniel Amen, so that more parents can easily help their children through these typical, but often tough moments. However, I wanted to take a moment out to write another post about Dr. Amen, and to say thank you to him for his transformational work.

I love that already at the tender age of 10, my daughter knows that she can ignore the thoughts that say that something awful is going to happen. She can choose what she wants to do in life based on what she loves, not what scares her. She loves to sing and dance (and does both beautifully, in my biased opinion) AND she has the normal stage fright that most people have. Many adults believe those thoughts so much so that fear of public speaking is the second highest fear, after death! What a gift that she doesn’t have to hide her gifts all her life because of believing those ANTs!

Thank you Dr. Amen. You are a wonderful human being, who I know had your own ANTs to deal with when you first started speaking on television about your powerful work. I’m grateful you got rid of your own ANTs so you could teach so many others how to get rid of theirs!

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