Your child is paralyzed. She stares at the bathroom door unable to go through. She grabs the door handle with her shirt, fumbling to get it open. You’ve watched her wash her hands until they are raw. It seems like most questions that come out of her mouth are about germs. What is going on with her? This new fear of germs is taking over her life. How can you help?
Your child is refusing to get out of the car. “What’s wrong!” You ask, growing more impatient. “I don’t want to go.” Your child pouts. “But why?” You beg, glancing at the time and wondering what excuse you’ll tell your boss this time. “I just don’t want to!” She screams at you. You’ve done this dance many times before. You wonder, how are you supposed to help a child with anxiety when they won’t even talk about it?
A child with OCD sits in my office. I ask if she is ready. She gives me a nervous nod. I place a Clorox wipe in her hand. She begins to breath heavily. Her OCD convinces her she is holding a death wipe. She imagines her hands spreading the contamination throughout her body, the poison flooding her veins.
I am not having a torture session, I am treating a child with OCD.
OCD is like a game of chicken. A game I am determined to help her win. We are calling OCD’s bluff, refusing to blink.
Your child screams, “I hate you!” She rolls her eyes and tells you, “No!” You feel your composure slipping away as she spits out her final words. In one fell swoop she has made you feel enraged and completely ineffective. You wonder, where did I go wrong? And why on earth does she feel she can talk back to me?
It’s another school day. Which means another stomach ache. Another battle of wills. Lots of tears. Lots of threats. Eat Dinner. Go to bed. Repeat. Why is your child constantly clutching their stomach? Why are they paralyzed with fear and…heartburn. Unfortunately stomach pain and anxiety like to hang out together and I mean – often. They are best friends and they like to team up against your child.
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Nobody gives parents a handbook when they pop out a kid. Even if they did, it probably wouldn’t have a chapter on anxiety in children. That’s why so many of us with anxious kids feel like we are sailing in a very lonely boat. A boat that no one really taught us how to sail.
She’s refusing to go to school again – is it cruel to make her go? Who the heck knows!
He needs me to be with him until he falls asleep – should I do it? Someone give me a clue!
She’s so shy, I order her food for her – am I helping or hurting her anxiety?
Let’s decode this mystery together. Grab a seat and let’s have a chat…
Do you want to help a child with anxiety? Life offers them two doors. Behind door #1 is fear, avoidance and misery. Behind door #2 is fear, bravery and determination. What door does your anxious child pick? What door do you pick for them? As parents, it is hard to not be overly sympathetic to our children with anxiety. Watching them squirm and suffer through anxiety is not fun. It is understandable that for some of us, we want to help our kids avoid this suffering by avoiding the root cause of their misery. Unfortunately, if you want to help a child with anxiety – you need to do just the opposite.
It sucks watching kids struggle with anxiety. Parents try all sorts of things to help, but often they are missing this key step. Forget about your breathing exercises, aromatherapy and distraction techniques. If you don’t teach your kids this, your anxious kids will never experience anxiety relief.
Children with anxiety can be self-haters. I’ve seen this over and over again in my therapy practice. Anxious kids tell me they feel stupid, insecure and paranoid. They wonder why they are paralyzed with fear, while everyone around them looks just fine. A child’s anxiety can cause tons of self-doubt. Anxiety is a self-esteem killer. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. You can help your anxious child by naming your child’s anxiety. We aren’t trying to crush them, we are trying to crush their anxiety. You can do this by teaming up with your child and making your child’s anxiety the nemesis for both of you!
Your child explodes when he comes home from school. You spend hours trying to get him to bed. You have been dealing with mysterious stomach issues that have stumped your pediatrician. These are the subtle signs of child anxiety that are often missed.
It sounds like World War 3 in the other room. Words are flying. Fists are flying. You hope one of your offspring will survive. The sound of my kids fighting is like nails to the chalkboard. “Make it stop!” I plead to no one in particular. Even if I said it out loud, I doubt any of them would be able to hear me over the blood curdling screams.
Your child is doing it again. That weird quirk. You cringe every time you see it. You tell her to stop. She tries, but there it is again. You tell yourself, it will pass. They all do. It’s always something different. Today it is some weird eye blinking and maybe next month she’ll blow into her hands. You’ve stopped keeping track of how many “strange habits” she has had or how long they last. But what if they aren’t “strange habits?”
What if they aren’t tics?