Parenting is challenging enough, but what if you were told your “worrier” actually has Generalized Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and possible ADD? Dealing with anxiety in a child has a profound amount of obstacles, some we’ve learned how to deal with and others we are still figuring out.
As an adult who is starting a family, you read everything you can get your hands on regarding the do’s and don’ts of raising a healthy child. There is advice on how to punish certain behaviors. What you should or should not say in different situations. You just pray that in the end they grow up to be happy, successful adults…who are good people.
Dealing With Anxiety In Your Child
The one thing you never expect as a parent is to have your job as a parent compounded by having a child with a form of mental illness. I have written about Megan in the past and her struggle with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder since she was eight years old. As a parent, to see your child suffer and not be able to “make it better” is just horrendous.
We finally did take Megan to a Pediatric & Adolescent Psychiatrist after going the counseling route for two years. During those two years, we tried two different counselors, but Megan’s panic attacks got progressively worse. She also complained of tummy aches all the time, due to the anxiety. The tummy aches started causing her to isolate herself and us more and more. She was terrified her tummy would hurt while we were out. She only felt safe at home.
Also, her panic attacks every morning before school became unbearable…for us, and especially for her. Within the first week of school last year, while entering 5th grade, the mornings were filled with her sobbing and full out panic attacks. It was one of the worst times I have gone through while being a mom. The feeling of guilt for not being able to make everything better for her, coupled with the fact that you are constantly questioning how you are handling things in incredibly stressful. Are you going about it the right way, or are you making it worse?
We knew Megan needed more help than what she was receiving from counseling alone. She had entirely too much anxiety to even try to put the coping mechanisms in place that she was learning. I knew I had made the right decision when at the end of her very first appointment with the Psychiatrist Megan asked if this would help her finally feel better. When the doctor said yes, the relief on Megan’s face very evident.
As a parent, it is so hard to know if the choices you are making are the right ones for your child. Did I wait too long? Should I have tried other things? I don’t know. But I will tell you this, she has not had a panic attack in over a year and since returning to school after winter break she has stopped complaining about her tummy hurting. Although there are other things we are still dealing with which has, over the years, caused a fall out of sorts with friends.
Unfortunately, at the time a child’s behavior is most disconcerting to others is when they need to know they are not alone the most. Over the years, Megan has made some really bad decisions. She acts too impulsively – saying things without thinking. Just last week there were two incidents. Two!! Every time something happens I feel as though I can just hear the chatter going on, “there goes Megan again”. Whether that is really being said or not has never been confirmed. However, I’m sure there is some dialog between parents.
Last week we met with Megan’s teacher for conferences. We knew that Megan’s reading comprehension had gone down dramatically, what we were not aware of was that she was having a hard time retaining learned math. Her teacher said she tends to have to go over the same things with her several times. My husband concurred! My husband helps Megan with her math. He has this amazing ability to explain it on her level and understanding. I did not realize he was repeatedly going over the same things with her.
About one year ago I was diagnosed with Adult ADD. ADD tends to go hand-in-hand with anxiety. It also presents itself in girls much differently than boys. As a child, I was always getting yelled at for acting or talking without thinking. I do not remember if I struggled with reading comprehension as a child, but I do remember having to read things over and over again. I could read a whole section of a book and not remember anything. My mind would go off in other places while reading, during conversations, in math class or any other time of the day. Even as an adult, someone could be talking to me and my mind would go somewhere else. I’d come back with a “what?”. Being called “flakey” has not been an uncommon experience throughout my life.
The fact that Megan acts on impulse so often, coupled with her deteriorating reading comprehension and her lack of retention for math has me questioning if she does suffer from ADD as well. I have spoken to both her counselor and her teacher about this, and all feel it is a definite possibility. There is testing that can and will be done, plus her teacher is making some adjustments for her in class for reading and math.
I know Megan will get through this and will be such a strong person for having done so. At the age of 11, it is heartbreaking to see how many obstacles and disappointments she has had to overcome so far.
I understand the need for parents to protect their children. I honestly cannot say that I would not have responded the same way prior to going through all of this with Megan. No one wants their child exposed to more information than they can possibly handle.This time in the child’s life is so confusing and challenging, what they don’t need is the social stigma to go along with it.
If you are dealing with a “Megan” in your child’s class, please reach out to the parents before assuming the child is just “bad” or cannot learn from prior mistakes. Try not pass judgment based on what you think you know or what others may say. Also, keep in mind that these kids see each other every single day, so be careful on how you address your concerns with your child. The parents, I’m sure, are upset and worried about their child and his or her behavior and would really appreciate some support. Besides, there may be a very good reason for the child’s behavior.
Is there someone in your child’s school who has anxiety? Do you find this more common in today’s world?
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