Gordon Neufeld: Making Sense of Anxiety in Children and Youth – YouTube.

This video of Gordon Neufeld is much more than a discussion of anxiety in children and youth. He manages to include a wealth of experience and knowledge about what healthy human development, secure attachment and resilience looks like. he has worked with Gabor Mate and with young people in Canada’s prisons as well as in private practice.

He says feeling alarmed (at separation especially) should move us to: caution, if that is possible; to cry, if that is futile and to take courage if what alarms is in our way. A parent encourages a child to whichever of these options is most appropriate.

At 47:00 minutes he discusses how attachment works and how it needs to be between an “alpha” and a “dependent” and summarises the key point of his book “Hold on to Your Kids” where he describes the way that so many kids nowadays (I know I did this) turn to their peers for attachment needs that their peers are incapable of meeting. So many times I see parents behaviour and I am thinking “you need to be in charge here. you are not helping your child by attempting to act like their peer or by not using your authority for good”. I don’t mean authoritarian (although that style of parenting is not inherently bad if it includes connection and love) I mean authoritative. Gordon Neufeld describes it very well.

At the end he talks about separation based discipline which is becoming more and more popular, like time-out, like being sent to your room to cry (or left to cry alone at any age). Gordon Neufeld describes how this affects secure attachment and safety and how it actually damages the development of the child. Especially when it is effective in stopping the crying (with enormous cost to the child’s ability to self regulate and develop resilience to life’s stress and trauma).

“The issue of anxiety is the issue of alarm. The issue of alarm is the issue of separation. Facing separation is an issue of vulnerability …that sometimes is to much to bear. There are so many futilities in life and when there is there is nothing left to do than cry… and hopefully a child can find his tears in a safe place to have his tears and then ultimately, ultimately the dragons are sitting on our treasures and the challenge is to not let fear get in the way.”

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