Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for children and adults, affecting upwards of 20% of children and adolescents over the lifespan.
I noticed from a very young age, that my son had a tendency to worry, but I did not immediately recognize it as an anxiety problem. I assumed it was just something that he would grow out of, not realizing that it could later be even more debilitating over time. I didn’t know any other families who had a child with anxiety – or no one that actually spoke openly about it. Over the last few months my sons anxiety got much worse.
Recently, my vehicle keys had gotten misplaced – I know, big deal right? I searched our home high and low. We were on our way to my sons hockey game and we were running low on time. I called my mom and she offered to take my son to hockey. However, once he got to the arena, he was complaining of a stomach pains, he refused to get on the ice, he complained that his chest was hurting, and he was taking really long, deep breaths… ding ding ding.. Panic attack. He couldn’t skate, he was lethargic, and he definitely wasn’t himself. He came home later that morning and spent the rest of his Sunday in bed. This day, my child’s anxiety literally debilitated him to the point that he could no longer function. You may think, “over something as small as misplaced keys?” YES! The overthinking of specific situations affect some children dramatically. We all experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time. These feelings can range from a mild sense of uneasiness to full-blown panic (or anywhere in between), depending on the person and the situation. Some amount of anxiety is normal and can even be motivating. It helps us stay alert, focused, and ready to do our best. But anxiety that’s too strong or happens a lot can become overwhelming. It can interfere with our ability to get things done and, in severe cases, can start taking over the good and enjoyable parts of our life. For instance, my son absolutely loves hockey, but this incident took the fun out of his entire day.
I searched for checklist online for symptoms of anxiety and children and the same things kept popping up
- Clinging, crying and/or tantrums when you separate – YES – minus the tantrums
- Excessive shyness, avoiding social situations – hmm sometimes
- Constant worry – sometimes
- Avoiding situations or places because of fears – YES
- Complaints of frequent stomachaches or headaches – YES and YES
- Experiencing sudden and frequent panic attacks – sudden yes, but not frequently
Thats when I thought, “WOAH”, my son has had all of these symptoms at one point or another. I started to backtrack in my mind about times I had seen these behaviours. To remember the incidents that happened when he would show these signs. My son is not good with change. As summer was winding down, the days leading up to the first day of school, which are some of the happiest memories for some children, my son started complaining about stomach pains and headaches again. Red flag right there. We talked through it and once he realized his teacher was the one he had been hoping for, the adjustment was a little smoother. This is such a common issue in children that at times, can get overlooked. I can remember individuals telling me, “he’s fine, he’s just being difficult,” or “he’s faking sick because he doesn’t want to go to school.” NO my child has a condition that makes him feel this way.
I have learned some coping mechanisms to help my son deal with his anxiety disorder, in which I go into great detail in my book.
There is no right or wrong strategy to use. Whatever works for your child, keep doing that. You are not alone. Parenting is a hard job, but we always put our children first and do whatever we can to make their own little journey safe and enjoyable. We love them and we do what we can. Heres to all of you awesome parents xoxo
Until next time…
Sheryail Marie xoxo