I have mentioned a few times before about how I suffer from major anxiety problems. It is a daily struggle and it takes all I have each day to try to fight it off as soon as it creeps up. I have found some techniques that help me but they don’t work every time. Although you may have ways to deal with it for yourself, what do you do when your child also suffers from anxiety?
When Your Child Also Suffers From Anxiety
Our 3 nerdlings are great kids. They each have their own unique personalities and quirks and are extremely fun to be around. They are very well behaved in public and we get many comments from friends, family, and even strangers about how well behaved they are. Of course, the same isn’t true when they are at home, but that’s normal…right?? I wish the hubs and I could take all of the credit for their manners but we can’t.
I can tell you now that I know they act this way mainly because they are very shy themselves and will not do anything to bring attention to themselves.
Not Wanting To ‘People’
The teen can be a little shy at first until she feels comfortable with where she’s at or who she’s with. This is pretty much they way it is for anyone. But she doesn’t like to go anywhere alone and she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, just like me.
When she was 8 years old, she met a set of twins and became great friends with them. Their mom was a teacher at their Wednesday night MPACT girls classes at their church. They invited her along and she became a regular MPACT girl for a few years. She loved going, especially since we homeschool so this was as close to a ‘school setting’ as she was going to get. She had a lot of fun and went on camping trips, had sleepovers at the church, and much more.
As much fun as she had, there were days where she would refuse to go because of anxiety. She would have those days where she just did not want to ‘people’. We would tell her that she would miss all of the fun and wouldn’t be able to see her friends for another week if she missed it…it worked about 90% of the time because she knew the people there & had many friends. It’s hard to talk someone into doing something during an anxiety attack when you know exactly how they are feeling and they just want to run away.
Kid Baker is crippling shy in public, exactly how I was as a young kid. If we go out to eat, we make sure to face her away from as many people as we can. If anyone can see her, she will keep her head down, barely move her eyes off of her plate, and hardly eat a bite – she’s like a statue, frozen with fear. It’s best for us to have a booth in a corner so all of us can feel more comfortable. Once she opens up, she is a hilarious child.
ADHD and Anxiety
We found out that our son has ADHD when he was about 8 years old. He’s 11 now, but we had opted out of medications because he can manage it (somewhat). We homeschool, so I am able to teach the way he is able to learn.
Along with ADHD comes the demand of needing to know what is going to happen at the next step. He may seem ‘scatter-brained’, but he needs an itinerary of some sort to keep him balanced. Because of ADHD, if he doesn’t have an itinerary, he falls apart and the anxiety consumes him.
At home, we don’t have an exact schedule – as in having exact times that we do things – but we have a flow of things. He is perfectly happy with the regular days, but days where things get out of whack, it’s not good. If he overhears us talking about something coming up, a visit to someone’s house, someone coming over here, etc., he will come running, saying, “What? What’s going on??” Then he will ask every single day how many days until so-and-so happens. It’s not so much the excitement, but the anxiety of something happening outside of his norm.
He had also joined his sister at church on Wednesday evenings with the boys his age. He loved it, until he started throwing fits and refused to go anymore. We tried our hardest to find out why and, after a few weeks of missing class, he finally confessed. He and a few other boys were running in the hallway and a teacher asked them to sit on the ground against the wall for a few minutes because of it. That was it. He wasn’t yelled at, he wasn’t in trouble really, and we weren’t even talked to about it. Because he NEVER gets into trouble with anyone besides his parents, he freaked and refused to go back. He eventually did and had fun, but would avoid that teacher (who wasn’t even his own).
Last Halloween, we were Trick-or-Treating with my sister and her 2 boys. We get to the last street before ours and 2 big pit bulls came running and tried attacking us. The hubs and another guy charged at them and scared them away by yelling. We found out that these dogs were being trained to fight and was getting out of their backyard to attack people. It traumatized my son so bad that he ran all the way home yelling, “That’s IT! I’m done! I’m NEVER trick-or-treating AGAIN!”. He would not come outside in our front yard (backyard is fenced in) for the longest time, unless it was to get in the car. Eventually the dogs were picked up, moved, or something because we haven’t seen them since.
To this day, almost 1 year later, if he is outside and hears ANY dog barking, he runs back inside terrified. He doesn’t trust ANY dog but our own 9 year old one that he grew up with.
Anxiety Makes You Physically Sick
Kid Baker doesn’t have the anxiety attacks like the other 2 do so easily. It takes a lot for her and, thankfully, it doesn’t happen that often. When it does, it has to do with medical issues, such as taking meds (HATES it & literally gags & throws them up so avoids them at all costs!), going to the doctor, getting sick, etc.
She had a toothache recently and panicked thinking that the dentist was going to pull it out. She started panicking so bad that she asked if I could go sit outside with her for fresh air. We did, and she started to feel better. When we came in, she started asking more questions about it and got scared and made herself eventually throw up. Afterwards, she felt better but ended up sleeping in our room just to make sure that’s all it was. She slept fine all night & was fine the next day.
Anxiety can tear your body apart and is so much more than just the panicky feeling, rapid heart rate & breathing.
Helping Them Through An Attack
Be it just a worrying feeling or full blown attack, there are ways we try to help children through it. Because I deal with it, it’s easier for me to help them than it is my hubs. He’s had 1 or 2 attacks in his life, but he doesn’t live it like I do.
Take a look at these tips for getting through an anxiety attack. These are what help me, as well as our kids.
Most importantly, let them know that they WILL get through them.
Do you, or someone you know, suffer from anxiety & panic attacks? What are some of your strategies for getting through them?