The word ‘panic’ has its origins in Greek Mythology. The Greek deity, Pan, with the body and head of a man and the legs and feet of a goat, used to frequent the forests of Arcadia where he would rustle the leaves in trees in the forest. Unwitting passers-by would hasten their pace, scared at the sudden eerie noise in the trees. The passers-by would be scared, for no apparent reason – they would panic!
The classic symptoms of a panic attack which include shortness of breath, a lump in the throat, tightness of the chest, racing heartbeat are very scary for the person having the attack and for the people witnessing it. When it is your child having the attack it can be absolutely terrifying for child and parent/carer alike. I have first-hand experience of this and felt totally powerless and helpless the first time it happened. That is why I now train adults how to help children manage their fears and anxieties, and be able to step in with confidence if their child has a panic attack.
In 2016 my youngest child, then 11 years old, who has always been very sensitive, had her first panic attack. It was horrific for her, her elder sister, me and my husband. My husband was on the phone to NHS 111. My daughter’s symptoms, breathing difficulties and hyperventilation, inability to speak (lump in her throat and dry mouth), inability to walk (pins and needles caused by a lack of carbon dioxide in the body) worsened; she said she couldn’t see anything. At that point the call handler said she was sending an ambulance. It felt like the bottom was dropping out of my world. If an ambulance was coming, it was serious, right?
Interestingly enough when my daughter heard the ambulance was on its way it had a calming effect on her. It made her feel safer, her breathing normalised and her sight returned over the next 10 minutes. The paramedics spoke kindly but informatively to her. They calmly told her, much to her parents’ dread, that the reason she couldn’t’ see was because the lack of oxygen due to her breathing was depriving her organs of oxygen and if it had continued they would have started to shut down. She got better, the ambulance went. She was fine. On the other hand, we, her parents, were quite shaken!
Shortly after this I trained in how to teach children mindfulness and meditation with Lorraine E. Murray, founder of the award winning Connected Kids™ program. Lorraine then invited me to her study program to become and adult trainer. So I now train adults how to teach children valuable mindful skills. I wanted to be able to empower parents, carers and teachers to help children deal with their panic attacks calmly, effectively and confidently.
During the first lockdown, due to Covid-19, unsurprisingly my daughter’s panic attacks returned. They usually occurred when she, then 15, was settling to sleep. Instead of feeling powerless to help her I had a range of tools at my disposal which I used to help her and to keep myself calm whilst doing so. Breathing exercises, guided meditation and knowledge of the fight/flight/freeze response and how my tools counter this have given me the confidence to help my daughter during the scariest of times. And she has confidence in me.
If you are interested in training online via Zoom with me, Tara Russo, to help your child manage their fears and anxieties, process uncomfortable emotions in a positive manner and self-regulate their behaviour then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via email email@example.com, on 07761140855. Check out my website for my next course dates. Groups are very small so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. The course costs £199 but sometimes I run promotions so it is always worth checking.
I also work with children directly, running my 6 week online Mindful Me course which is tailored to the individual needs of the child (£299). This helps children develop a mindful practice that will help them for the rest of their lives.
For more details on what I do please have a look at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wellbeingforkidsuk