Children And Anxiety
Anxiety is a very difficult thing for many people to understand that have not experienced it. See everyone has been anxious about something as I have sad before. When the rumors start at your company that there will be layoffs it rears its head. When the doctor says he sees something suspicious on your x-rays there it is again. But the situation subsides, live goes on and the anxiety dissipates. So it’s easy for a parent without an anxiety disorder to counsel their child through finals week, or an upcoming dance recital, or a visit to the doctor. We understand the feelings of dread because we’ve experienced them. But when your child is crying all of the time despite what you see as a happy home life, you might ask, “What do you have to be anxious about? You don’t have bills to pay or a job to go to. And when they become terrified of butterflies, and then all things that fly it may seem like they just want attention if you don’t know better. Many parents ignore the symptom, hoping they will just grow out of it. But when they go from being a social little boy to a middle schooler who won’t sleep out, wants to quit baseball, and begs to be homeschooled it can be very confusing to a parent that has not experienced anxiety as a disorder.
We all get anxious. That’s just part of life and there is no reason to pathologize what is typical. So how do we know when to get help. When there is a change in functioning. If your child freaks out a little when they see a lizard, well for the most part that can be dealt with. But when the fear that there will be a lizard stops them form going outside now we have a situation. It is typical for a child to want to avoid doctors and shots but when they wake up every morning dreading a shot that is not even in their foreseeable future well that again is a situation. The difference between being anxious and having an anxiety disorder is that an anxiety disorder is pervasive, and often doesn’t have a rational basis for the level of fear. The concern may be reasonable but the attempt to avoid the concern is not. For most children some play therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy is enough but for some medication is necessary until they can get chemically regulated enough to be able to learn new strategies. If your child needs therapy you are not a failure. If your child needs medication you are not a failure. I pray however that you will not let a child with anxiety go untreated. Anxiety is a thief. Don’t let it steal your child’s joy by letting it run the show.