If you've got an extremely anxious child, you need to read this
Posted June 27, 2016
Crying all the time, extreme shyness, worried about everything and unwilling to leave your side. You think he/she should be old enough to be able to deal with that stuff by now, but it's just not happening. If that describes your child, these tips are for you:
It will get better
I hated school for years. I cried every day before and during those torturous hours. I'd fake getting sick so I could go home. I just about drove my poor mother crazy.
Whatever your child is struggling with, it won't last forever. They will eventually get over it, or learn how to deal with it. Know that. It may take longer for your kid than for most others, but it'll happen. It took me until the middle of 3rd grade.
This is important to remember with your child and especially with yourself. You're doing more for your child than you think you are.
The fact that you're even reading this right now is evidence of your true concern for your child and your role in his/her life.
It's OK to freak out
There may be moments when you lose it. That doesn't make you a bad parent, it makes you human. Don't beat yourself up if you get angry at your child. Don't blame yourself for what your child is going through (that's an easy trap for moms to fall into). His/her challenges are not always a reflection of your parenting skills.
Your child puts you in some embarrassing situations sometimes and you're going to feel the pressure. I distinctly remember hanging on for dear life to a railing outside my classroom door, hanging horizontally in the air with my teacher on one foot and my mother on the other, both trying to get me into the classroom. Eventually, they succeeded (for the day).
You'll probably yell, scold, punish, etc., and feel like the worst parent in the world. You're not.
Try not to cave
When your child is hanging onto your leg and looks at you with tear-filled eyes, begging you not to send them to where ever (school, church or even just piano lessons), it's going to break your heart-- but send them. Even though they're going to make you doubt, you do know what's best for them.
The only way they're going to get over their fears is if they face them, consistently. You're going to feel like the bad guy, but you're not. Your child will hate you for it, but they forgive quickly.
But know when they just need you to love them
Not caving is an evidence of your love for them, but that's not what it looks like to a child.
Try to find the balance between being strict and being soft. If your child is sitting on the couch for hours at a time sick with worry about whatever, a comforting hug might be the best remedy.
Figure out what works
A rewards system worked for me. If I got through a day at school, or even an hour-long class in church without any problems, maybe I'd get some Pop Rocks afterwards.
This may or may not work with your child. It's not a permanent solution (your child is going to have to decide when that happens), but it sure helps when you're having a rough day and just need some cooperation to keep you from exploding.
If you feel the need, professional help may be the best option for your child. Their anxiety may extend beyond mere emotional immaturity and into the biological realm. He/she may need to be diagnosed and medicated, or he/she may benefit from an occasional chat with a psychologist (like me).
The day will come when your child will want to tell you...
... thank you. Thanks for putting up with me for all that time. Thanks for caring enough about me to pry my fingers from the chain-link fence and making me go to school. Thanks for reassuring me when I was worried. Thanks for loving me enough to say no to my demands, even though it tore your heart out to do it.
Thanks for not giving up on me.
David Snell is a humor writer for the FamilyShare team. He's OK. Twitter: @e_snell