Anxiety can be broken down into 2 categories: Relational Anxiety and Object-Oriented Anxiety. Relational Anxiety is anxiety focused around people whereas Object-Oriented Anxiety is anxiety focused around things and/or events.
Think of it this way, if two anxious people have to drive through a rainstorm to give a speech the one with Object-Oriented Anxiety will worry about the storm and the one with Relational Anxiety will worry about the speech. Both have anxiety about the overall trip but their anxiety is about two completely different things.
People with Relational Anxiety:
– worry about the opinions of others.
– feel judged by peers and/or excluded.
– focus on what others are doing/saying.
– feel inferior when not receiving attention.
– are highly sensitive to the reactions of others.
– keep their anxiety at home.
People with Object-Oriented Anxiety:
– worry about things in their environment (weather, job loss, money, driving, flying).
– lack a feeling of competence in themselves or others to handle situations.
– are overly concerned with facts and statistics (news, weather, internet searches).
– show physical signs of distress (heart palpitations, sweaty palms, shaking, etc.)
In kids, these signs are very much the same. Object-Oriented children worry about tornadoes, global warming and house fires while Object-Oriented adults worry about work, retirement funds and flying on airplanes. Relationally Anxious children worry about what the kids in class will think of their outfit, the one girl in class who isn’t friendly and the P.E. teacher who got onto them three weeks ago. Relationally Anxious adults worry about what the neighbors are saying, what other people think of their husbands or wives and why they didn’t get invited to dinner with a group of friends.
Think about where you or your child fits and begin to notice what theme is presenting itself. Is it a Relational theme or an Object-Oriented theme? Once determined, you can begin paying closer attention to what is triggering anxiety and begin putting tools in place to help soften the blow.