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Mental Health

Intrusive Thoughts: 5 Strategies for Encouraging Your Child to Regain Control

The need to dominate your surroundings as a parent can be overpowering. This is especially important if your youngster is confronted with unwanted thoughts. Your child, like you, tries to exert control over his or her surroundings. The desire for control in your child’s life is the source of a vicious loop of unpleasant thoughts. Here are five strategies for assisting your child in dealing with any distracting thoughts that may be fighting for his or her attention:

  1. Training our minds is similar to training a puppy.

Explain intrusive thoughts in a straightforward manner. Consider this:

       Unwelcome ideas are like a dog that keeps dropping his toy at your feet, as the saying goes. The more times that you throw the ball, the more often he follows it down and brings it back, each time with increased energy. The moment you start ignoring him, he won’t go away. But eventually, he’ll get bored and leave you. Tell yourself that washing your hands for the sixth time in an hour will only make you more at ease in the present. You’ll have to repeat the process many times. Try to ignore your worries and fight the urge to wash your hands once again to reassure yourself.7

      Alternately, create an upper limit. Instead of washing your hands each time, you get a great idea, make a deal with yourself that you will only do it twice. You’ll take the necessary precautions to keep safe, but you’ll also train your mind to stop worrying.’

  1. One step at a time.

Together with your buddies, construct a mental staircase of negative thoughts. “Start at the bottom of the staircase with the idea that bothers you the least,” instruct your teen. Climb the ladder to the concept that causes you the most concern. To preserve balance, practice thinking through each thought without giving in to [insert addiction or obsession here]. This will help your child restore control and retake power over their diverting thoughts.

  1. Your child’s “bad thoughts” do not make him or her a “bad person”.

Researchers Clark and Radomsky claim that “a lot of people in every nation report unwelcome intrusive thoughts.” Everyone has felt that being out of control is hectic and overwhelming… I’m here to tell you that neither you nor your child is a hot mess, *spoiler alert*. Everybody experiences this occasionally, including parents and kids. The complete opposite of attempting to rule your surroundings is being content in your own skin. What activities can you perform with your child today that will please both of you? Try going outside; perhaps meet at a park or take a stroll along the coast. Ask your child for ideas on what you two can do to help them feel more at peace in their own skin.

  1. Say it aloud.

Encourage your youngster to say, “I am brave, I am intelligent, and I am powerful.” It is quite comforting for you and your child to have someone who genuinely cares about and listens to them. It might be a parent, teacher, therapist, or any combination of the three. Speaking out with intrusive thoughts can work wonders. The same ideas that seem so genuine and self-defining will fall apart when expressed aloud. Your child will learn the meaninglessness of each undesirable concept. In this way, she will learn to separate her true self-worth from her false beliefs. The only responsibility you have as parents is to listen. Do not correct or react; only listen. Your child will be able to communicate feelings of optimism about herself more readily as a result of this.

  1. Concentrate on What You Can Do

‘By concentrating on what you have control over and what you can accomplish, you permit yourself to be in charge,’ tell your child. Concentrate on the little things that make you happy. ‘What makes you joyful more than anything else?’ This is also a wonderful topic for parents to ask. If you can’t think, go back to the beginning: Have you gotten enough rest? Have you been preparing your own meals or ordering takeaway? When was the last time you went for a walk in the sunshine and fresh air? Returning back to basics will allow you to do a greater number of the things you enjoy while worrying less about the things over which you have no power.

Helping your teen or child let go of bad thoughts can be challenging. Your youngster could think that giving in to a certain behavior will provide them with faster relief than working hard to earn a long-term reward. What maintains compulsive and obsessive thoughts and actions? What matters is how your youngster responds to the unwelcome idea.

The more intrusive thoughts you and your child pay attention to, the more often and serious these thoughts become. Understanding this does not mean that getting rid of unpleasant thoughts will be easy. Although intrusive thoughts might be quite strong, your child can overcome them with your love, patience, and guidance. Giving your child the knowledge they need to understand and control their intrusive thoughts can be a big start in the right direction, even though it can take some time. Marsha Linehan observed, “We make the best of what we have at any given time.” Finally, as a parent, treat yourself well and honestly. Don’t put yourself in a difficult position because of your child’s “bad thoughts.” Even the strongest and brightest young minds can become infected by intrusive thoughts, but with your encouragement, your child or adolescent can move on with courage and stamina, learning their own authority over disruptive ideas.