Anxiety and the Dangerous Child

When Stress Leads to Anxiety and Phobias
When Stress Leads to Anxiety and Phobias

Anxiety runs in families, and tends to propagate itself from parent to child. Part of this “dysfunctional inheritance” is genetic, and part of it is environmental — and part is epigenetic. Anxious children tend to become fearful children, who grow up to be fearful and often phobic adults. Up to 50% of the children of anxious parents tend to develop chronic anxiety themselves.

In Dangerous Child training, much effort is put into the early observation of a child’s reactions to various stimuli and increasingly challenging situations — on both an individual and a social basis. This will allow parents, mentors, and caregivers the opportunity to customise training in order to minimise dysfunction and maximise skills competencies.

But before that, parents themselves undergo a streamlined battery of written and hands-on tests meant to identify emotional and psychological patterns that may need work. For best results, potential parents seek consultation prior to conception of the Dangerous Child, or as early in development as possible.

If the child is allowed to develop anxious modes of thought and reaction for too long a time, the way back to functionality can be long and effortful — as any mental health analyst, councilor or therapist can tell you.

Here is more from a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, looking at the issue of curtailing the development of childhood anxiety in children of anxious parents.

[Anxious] parents sought help because they struggle with anxiety, and want to prevent their children from suffering the same way. Children of anxious parents are at increased risk for developing the disorder. Yet that does not need to be the case, according to new research by UConn Health psychiatrist Golda Ginsburg.

Ginsburg and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University tested a one-year family therapy intervention as part of a study of 136 families with at least one parent with anxiety and at least one child between the ages of 6 and 13…

Anxiety tends to run in families, with up to 50 percent of children of anxious parents growing up to be anxious themselves. Until now, anxiety prevention programs have been largely conducted in schools, with only modest success.

For an anxious child, meeting a new peer for the first time can be paralyzing. Trying an unfamiliar food might summon worries of being poisoned. To cope with this kind of debilitating anxiety, kids start avoiding whatever provokes the anxious feelings. If they’re afraid of the dark, they might insist on sleeping with all the lights on. If they’re afraid of failing, they won’t try new things. In extreme cases, they may refuse even to leave the house.

“Anxiety and fear are protective and adaptive,” says Ginsburg. “But in anxious kids they may not be, because these children have thoughts about danger and threat when there really isn’t one.”

Both inborn temperament and life experiences play a role, she says. The more negative experiences a person has growing up, the greater the likelihood he or she will struggle with anxiety as an adult. But there is also a component of anxiety that is learned, taught inadvertently by parents who model the behavior. It’s these learned behaviors and thought patterns that interventions can help change.

Most of the adults who participated in the study struggled in school and didn’t tell anyone. They didn’t raise their hands, or they got sick before exams. They might not have had any friends. As adults, their anxiety still limits their activities and sometimes those of their family members, and they are very motivated to help their children avoid the same…

The families who participated in therapy were taught to identify the signs of anxiety and how to reduce it. They practiced problem-solving skills, and exercised safe exposures to whatever made their child anxious.

One of the ways to reduce anxiety is the reality check — learning to recognize when a fear is healthy and worth paying attention to (a growling dog) or unhealthy (a suspicion that the birthday cake is poisoned).

“We taught the kids how to identify scary thoughts, and how to change them,” Ginsburg says. For example, if a child is afraid of cats and encounters one in the street, the child can first identify the scary thought: “That cat is going to hurt me.” Then the child can test that thought — is it likely that the cat will hurt me? No, the cat doesn’t look angry. It isn’t baring its teeth or hissing, it’s just sitting there. OK, I can walk past that cat and it won’t do anything.

__ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150925085336.htm

Preventing Onset of Anxiety Disorder in Offspring of Anxious Parents

The above research study points out the parallel importance of genes and environment (experience). Every child has the potential to develop anxiety over particular situations and experiences. But some are genetically and epigenetically predisposed to develop fearful reactions — even paralysing phobias. An ounce of prevention of such dysfunctional patterns is worth several tonnes of cure.

Anxiety disorders in children

3 Year Old Alligator Boy  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265423/See-later-alligator-Fearless-boy-3-struggles-maintain-grip-restless-reptile-swimming-wildlife-park-pool.html
3 Year Old Alligator Boy
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265423/See-later-alligator-Fearless-boy-3-struggles-maintain-grip-restless-reptile-swimming-wildlife-park-pool.html

Young children can learn to grow beyond irrational fears of water, heights, reptiles, predators — both human and animal, and other confrontational situations that might paralyse most “prudent” people. As long as their judgment and competencies grow to displace more and more of their fears, rationally.

Tiger Girl http://www.smart-kit.com/s2657/the-fearless/
Tiger Girl
http://www.smart-kit.com/s2657/the-fearless/

Dangerous children learn to fly planes, pilot boats and ships in treacherous waters, can safely navigate and move cross-country when it is necessary to cross mountain ranges and treacherous rivers and canyons, understand more about realistic human history and human nature / culture than most professors — and can support themselves financially at least three different ways by the time they reach the age of 18. They are steeped in entrepreneurial capitalism, natural science, and independent methods of long distance mobility before most children reach high school age.

There are as many obstacles to an effective Dangerous Childhood as there are Dangerous Children. And yet, it is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. But the earlier one begins, the better.

Newborns and Infants: Early Training

Before the child is old enough to walk or talk, or to begin training in controlled movement, music, art, and language — from birth to about 1 year — is the time to begin shaping critical brain – body connections and correspondences.

The child is born with most of the brain cells he will have as an adult, and with far more synaptic connections. These numbers are determined by the child’s gene expression and his environment within the womb.

Early in life, before and during “the synaptic pruning” (PDF) up to early adolescence, is a prime time to take advantage of early childhood brain plasticity. Early infancy is a particularly dynamic time, when both pruning and rapid synaptic formation are occurring simultaneously. By the ages of 3-5, pruning begins to outpace new synaptic formation — as the young brain continues to specialise (and limit) itself. The early environment of infants (and toddlers) makes a huge difference in the ultimate competence of the child’s brain.

Infants learn the particular quality of sounds in human languages that are spoken within his hearing. Familiarity with these early language sounds facilitates later language learning of the particular language(s) that the young infant hears. For example, if a child is destined to grow up and make his way in China, it is better if he hears proper “Chinese” spoken during his early months of life.

The same applies to music, which is but another form of auditory “language.” Music heard during the first few months of life will not be remembered as an adult, but its effects on the young brain will be profound — in terms of brain rhythms and subtle brain logics. It will influence the child’s later learning of language, maths, and, of course, music itself.

Movement training for newborns and young infants is a far more subtle thing than it will be at the toddler stage. It is best with the very young to combine movement training with simple holding, massage, and soft gentle rhythmic speech to accompany the subtle movements.

Again, the older child or adult will never remember these early trainings. But the deep, pre-verbal brain that forms the core of later learning will not forget.

Art training for the very young is just as much tactile as visual. Objects of various shapes should hang above his crib, and adorn the walls. Gently and slowly allowing the baby to feel surface textures of various items, as well as their shapes, edges, and temperatures, helps to form early concepts of art. As soon as the baby’s vision becomes clearer, allow the baby experiences that reinforce the correspondence between what he sees and what he feels.

Reading or telling stories to the child is excellent training in the prosody — the timing, accents, emphasis, and melody — of language. The child will not remember the stories as such, but more and more of the words and style of spoken language will stay with the child, over the months.

Infants should be raised within an enriched sensory environment, where they can trust that their needs will be met promptly, and their safety and comfort considered. Allowances for ample sleep and proper diet must be made.

As the child grows in infancy, movement training can become more vigorous — and even somewhat rowdy, depending upon the infant’s sensibilities. Bungee devices that allow the infant to initiate movements he would not otherwise be able to make, expand his imagination of movement. Zip line devices will teach basic gravitational concepts — even to children who may not tolerate being tossed gently into the air and caught.

As the child’s senses are refined, provide him with toys and safe objects of various distinct shapes. Children love spherical balls and cubic blocks, but they also need exposure to pyramids, other polyhedra, various classical curves, and objects that demonstrate symmetry and perspective. Rudimentary artistic puzzles are very useful.

By the time the child is ready to begin walking, he should have been exposed to applied art, such as simple machines and simple construction.

Whether the child creeps, crawls, rolls, or ambulates in other interesting ways, such early body movements should quickly be made goal directed — in the same way that reaching for a mobile that hangs above the infant’s crib is goal directed. Problem-solving should be made an early part of the infant’s life, and posed as a slowly graduated phenomenon. Expect setbacks, and be prepared to begin again at an earlier level from time to time.

Early infancy training should not detract from sleep, meals, play, outdoor time, or other normal occupations of infancy. In fact, the training should be seamlessly rolled into play, meals, going to sleep, waking up, exploring the outdoors, etc.

What the infant experiences during early infancy will help determine how well his mechanisms of gene expression can lay the foundations for later learning and development.

Very few children in the history of the world have been raised optimally, according to their unique needs, and the nature of their world. While it is true that young children possess significant resiliency, it is also true that you will never see the child’s missed opportunities to develop unique personal skills that might have served him well in later life.

Infants should be sung to (and with), have music played to them with various instruments, be held and moved safely in a comforting way — but in ways that gradually help expand his sense of movement. Stories should be told with expression and emotion, and ended in a way that leaves the infant settled and comforted.

Match the child’s facial expressions and body movements, as he grows older and begins to incorporate motor “mirroring.” As he learns to mirror your expressions and motions, his brain is learning how to physically respond to the outside environment.

These are a few of the ways that early infancy training can be shaped to morph cleanly into the Dangerous Child training for toddlers and pre-school children.

Dangerous Child training begins, of course, well before conception. And it continues throughout the prenatal period.

But it is often difficult for parents to visualise how one could possibly apply the Dangerous Skills taught to pre-adolescent and adolescent youth, to newborns and very young infants. Providing these few examples provides grist for the imagination.

Thanks to advanced psychology and neuroscience, it is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. But the earlier the training is begun, the more profound its effects over a lifetime.

More from “Doman-Mom:”

1. Teach joyfully
You must approach the game of learning with the same abandonment and enthusiasm you would approach the game of patty cake or peek a boo. All children are drawn to joyousness. Your attitude towards a subject determines his. Never approach your teaching with soberness and seriousness. Learning is the greatest game you will play with your child: keep it as such. Present learning as a privilege he has earned: never, never as a chore.
2. Teach clearly
When we talk to tiny children, we naturally talk to them in a loud, clear voice. Teach your tiny child in such a voice and make your materials large and clear. Present the information in an honest, factual, and straightforward way. If you give a tiny child the facts, he will discover the rules that govern them.
3. Teach quickly
You must teach your tiny child quickly and briefly. He has much to do and can’t stay in one place long. You must be content to teach him for only a few seconds at a time. That is all it takes. Present him with a set of information, and then come back to it later. When you teach in many ten- and fifteen-second sessions, you can accomplish more than you ever imagined possible.
4. Always leave him hungry for more
You must always, always, always stop before your child wants you to stop. Always stop before he wants to stop. Be sensitive to your child’s attention and mood, and leave him hungry for more, every time, without fail.
5. Teach only at the best times
The key to teaching your tiny child is to only do so at the best possible times. Never try and teach him in a distracting, chaotic environment. Never try and teach him at a time when he is hungry, tired, or out of sorts. Never try and teach him when you are out of sorts. You must be ever-discerning of your child’s temperament and mood and be willing to put your teaching away for the morning or day if needed.
6. Teach with consistency
If you are to be successful in teaching you must teach with consistently. If you child is to remain interested you must keep the ball rolling. Starting and stopping constantly will cause him to lose interest because he will believe the information you are bringing out again is old hat. Organize yourself to teach in such a way as to be able to remain consistent in your endeavors.
7. Teach new information
You will be surprised at how quickly your tiny child learns new information. Don’t go over the same information over and over again when he already knows it. You must be keen to sense when he knows something, and regularly give him that which is fresh and new.
8. Teach as a gift
We have come to equate teaching and testing as two sides of the same coin. You must forget this notion if you are to be successful in teaching your tiny child. Teaching is the process of giving information, as you would give a gift. Testing is asking for it back. Never test your child. It is essentially disrespectful and he will sense that you don’t trust that he knows the information. If he learns that your teaching always has strings attached, he will push you and your teaching away. Learning is a gift, the most precious one you can give your child.

__ http://domanmom.com/2010/11/the-principles-of-teaching-tiny-children/

Good advice — except for the part about never testing the child.  Life itself is a test, and if you never put your child into situations that challenge and test him, you are treading the edges of parental malpractise.  Domanmom has a good heart, but like most well-meaning and kindly moms she fails to see what is coming, and why growing children to be Dangerous is so important.

Learning to Fly, Navy Seal Training, SCUBA Training

Overcoming Limits

Most children grow up with a large number of unnecessary self-imposed limitations. Not knowing their options, and not understanding their own capabilities, are two of the biggest reasons for kids unnecessarily limiting themselves. But in many cases, these unnecessary limits have been placed on children by parents, schools, and other institutions of society.

In order to help Dangerous Children to stretch their limits, they are recommended to master a wide range of “mobility skills,” including flying, swimming, SCUBA, boating, navigation, mountaineering, survival in several difficult environments, and stealth.

In the US, a youth must be 16 years old to solo in a powered aircraft, and 17 years old to obtain a private pilot license. Unpowered gliders can be soloed at age 14. Source

Aviation Summer Camps

US Civil Air Patrol Cadet program

One of many online ground schools for pilots

Kids can learn to fly — both ground school and flight school — while quite young, if accompanied by a licensed pilot. Al Fin’s father began teaching him to fly around the age of 8.

Flight school will help kids pass their written exam, then they can log flight instruction hours from a licensed instructor. They can solo at age 16, spend a year accumulating cross-country flight hours and other required hours, then pass their flight and oral exams at age 17. What they do after this is up to them — Dangerous Children can support themselves at least 3 different ways by the age of 18, so they can choose how to spend their own funds.

Here is a good list of SCUBA training programs for kids

Some mountaineering and climbing camps

Al Fin learned to SCUBA and rock climb from close friends as a teen, then went on to get more advanced training and experience from instructors.

Summer Sailing Camps for Kids

Al Fin taught himself to sail, and lived to tell about it! Was finally released from that Cuban prison camp when he convinced Fidel that he was not a Yanqui spy. Not recommended. 😉

Public Navy Seal Training Programs Age 16 and Up

Extreme Seal Experience
Popular write-up of the program

Sealfit

Other high adrenaline adventures:

Covert Ops “missions”
Intense 2 and 4 day training missions

Simulators are Getting Better

Affordable simulators for a number of air, ground, and water vehicles have been available for a number of years. The same is true for reasonably realistic war gaming and combat simulators. But as affordable, high quality virtual reality arrives, the best simulators are likely to move to VR, accompanied by a number of realistic dynamic seats and platforms for a more believable experience.

Dangerous Children will be able to learn long-distance navigation, reconnaissance, and rendezvous skills via air, sea, undersea, and ground, at much younger ages than they will be able to obtain licenses for the sophisticated vehicles that will be simulated. Orienteering — with and without GPS and other electronics — can be easily integrated into the simulation exercises. Kids would rather participate in realistic adventures containing a certain element of danger, and realistic simulations will help to prepare Dangerous Children for the real thing.

Some advanced medical and surgical training simulators

Each Dangerous Child is Unique

Each child has different aptitudes, inclinations, and maturity levels. Dangerous Children are taught impulse control and emotional balancing at an early age, as well as other executive function skills. Dangerous Child motor skills training is also particularly advanced, allowing the child and youth a higher level of confidence when confronted with potentially hazardous situations.

But some children will be ready for some training at age 8 or 10, while others may need to wait until 12, 14, or even 16. Development and maturation of mind and body occur at different times for different children.

As we begin to lay out curricular timelines, we will attempt to present them as age ranges rather than fixed ages.