Helping the Anxious Child – The Journey Begins
I have an amazing daughter. She is three years old and full of life and love. She is incredibly bright with a huge imagination. I am in awe of her. And some days I can’t believe that I helped to create such a wondrous creature.
Her behaviours are, by and large, very typical for a three year old. She tests boundaries, bargains to stay up later or get an extra treat and can throw a heck of a tantrum when she feels it’s necessary. She is also sweet and kind and loves to hold hands and pick me flowers from the garden. There are moments I want to run away and times I can’t get enough of her. Like I said, pretty typical three year old stuff.
But there is also another layer to this little beauty. A layer behind the cute, behind the feisty. When you get down to that layer you find anxiety. Most of the time it’s hidden, or maybe doesn’t even exist. But when it does it can be crippling. For her and for us. Watching your child struggle is difficult. The stress of seeing them hurt and not knowing how to help them can knock any parent off their feet.
After a short period of trying to cope with this on our own we realized we just don’t have the tools. And we are not ashamed to admit this. Our daughter deserves the chance to work through this with the help of people that can equip her and us with the skills we all need to do that.
Today was our first appointment with a health professional in our journey to help our daughter with her anxiety. The first appointment, as is usual, included just the parents. It was basically a fact finding mission. We talked about her issues, about our lives, history, etc. All of the thing you would expect to talk about at this sort of meeting. We went in to the meeting far less anxious ourselves than we would have even just a few short weeks ago. Why? Because the past few weeks have been somewhat anxiety free, or at least anxiety reduced. I don’t know if it’s just a “good” phase or if we really have turned a bit of a corner. We (and that includes our daughter) are much better at recognizing those anxiety triggers now and are doing our best to avoid them. But we know they can’t all be avoided and there are bound to be new ones so we press on with our quest to be the best parents we can be and for her this means reaching out.
So why am I sharing this you with? Anxiety is VERY common in children. It is the most common mental health issue effecting kids. It can be minor and it can be crippling. There are many forms, signs and symptoms. Our daughter seems perfectly healthy. She’s bright, social and engaging. She’s not painfully shy and interacts very well with others (especially kids her own age). She is the poster child for a smart, well adjusted three year old. We are enormously proud of her. And we find zero shame in the fact that we have had to reach out and ask for help from professionals that can enable us to continue to let this little flower of ours grow and bloom.
So we will continue to talk about this, to write about it. To share our little story. For us, for you. For all the people, big and small, who sometimes get overwhelmed with life. Because we are not ashamed. Our daughter will not be ashamed. Nobody should be ashamed.