Child Anxiety

Two posts in one day, and a non-dog post…gasp!

So, I am a pretty private person. I generally only confide in a very small handful of people. I am very protective of my kiddo. But maybe someone will come across this, who can offer support or advice that helped them, or maybe it will somehow help someone, I don’t know…but anyway…

I am a single mom to an 8 year old boy. It’s been me and him, side by side. Though his dad and I have been exes now for 7 years, he is around and in his life. Jayden is a unique kid. He is smart, sarcastic, funny, and quirky. He has lots of friends, and loves pretty much everyone. He believes and trusts in God. He loves Elvis, and he’s crazy about wrestling.

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He has some struggles though. He has always been clingy. I’ve always joked that the reason I had to have an emergency c-section, was because Jayden refused to leave the womb! He has extreme nerves, and anxieties. He has a lot of fears, including being afraid of storms, bad people, dying, heights, being away from me, being too tall (because he thinks it will kill you), being in any sort of pain (and those are just a FEW)…he’s 8. These have not come from things he’s seen on tv. The severity of his fears come and go. Sometimes his anxiety is much worse than other times. There are no certain triggers, other than thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms. Ugh. We live in Florida. If you know anything about Florida summers, you know that it storms a lot. When I say Jayden is afraid of storms, I don’t mean he just whines or cries a little and the day goes on. I mean he cries, panics, sobs. He refuses to leave the house/car. He thinks lightning is going to strike and kill us. He lets it control his day. For example, we were going to go see a movie recently, and he decided to miss out on it because it had thundered. He constantly, like several times every day , wants to check the weather app on my phone to see the radar map. I have to warn people (grandparents, teachers, etc) of this fear, so they can expect his panic attack that will come if he sees gray clouds.

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He panics when he can’t see me. Even in our own home, he panics. I’ve tried multiple times, many ways, to help him understand that panicking is the worst thing to do. I’ve given him ways to try to help himself. For example, if he walks out of his room and doesn’t see me, and doesn’t hear me, he panics and cries. I’ve told him instead of panicking, look to see where the dogs are, since they’re always following me around; look for my phone and call Dad; go next door to our neighbor. But does he ever do any of those things? No. He panics.

The only time he is relaxed and confident, unafraid and focused, is when he is playing sports. His dad recently said at football practice, how he wished that Jayden would be like that all the time, having fun, learning, playing, not worrying about a million different things.

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It was the same with horse riding. He was a different kid around horses. He wasn’t afraid, didn’t have nerves, wasn’t anxious. He loved being in the barn, grooming, and learning to ride. Unfortunately lessons had to stop because I couldn’t afford them anymore. I hate that, but what can I do.

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People saying things to me like “he’ll get over it”, “he’ll grow out of it”, “it’s just a phase”, “can’t you just make him do <said activity>”…I literally want to punch them in the throat tell them to take a hike. I need people in my life that will be understanding and supportive. Even if you don’t understand it yourself…hell, I don’t even understand it. There are ways to be supportive, and empathetic. This is something that we’ve been struggling with for years. I believe it is what caused his extreme shyness when he was younger. As he has grown, it has manifested into these fears. Sometimes he can go months without having fearful worries. Other times, he goes for weeks having these fears and worries every single day. We are currently in one of those times. Every day, he is worried about something, and has to talk about it over and over and over and over. He cannot let it go. Every single night, he says things like “I don’t want to die because it will hurt” and “I just don’t want to be on Earth because I know bad things can happen.” I’ve tried ignoring it, talking about it, yelling at him to let it go. I know that probably sounds horrible and mean, but sometimes I just can’t take it anymore. I feel helpless and it sucks.

I honestly fear that if anything ever happened to me, he would become one of those people that would never leave his home. And that breaks my heart. I want him to live and love life. I want him to see the good in the world. I don’t want him to live with fear in his heart. As a mother, you want to fix what is broken. You want to help your child. But this, I can’t just fix it. I get sad and frustrated, because I don’t know how to help him.

These fears, are not normal for an 8 year old. A kid who has had a good life, filled with love from two parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and many friends. It is frustrating for me. Beyond frustrating. This type of personality is completely the opposite of me. I generally see the positive in all situations. I’m not afraid of things. I believe in living life day by day, and not wasting life away by worrying about what will be.

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So, he’s started counseling in school. Unfortunately there is not much help out there for children with anxiety, unless I just want to put him on meds, which is not the solution in my opinion, at least not until I’ve tried everything else in my power. Surprisingly, considering how shy he can be, he’s very open to counseling. He’s been looking forward to meeting with his guidance counselor, so I am hoping this will provide him with some relief, including ways to manage his anxiety. Please keep my bubs in your thoughts…prayers…send good vibes, wish on a star…whatever you believe in.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to regularly scheduled dog-posts. 😉

Good night, friends.

xoxo

 

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22 Responses to Child Anxiety

  1. Lenore says:

    I’ve taught school for 35 years and seen many kids with different issues. I raised a son, now almost 27, with ADHD from a very young age, and I myself know anxiety intimately. My son had multiple therapies and the results were iffy at best. I suffered for years with anxiety when I was younger. While I taught school, many kids demonstrated frustration and acted out because of it, and some kids did poorly despite how smart we knew they were. In 99% of the cases! medication changed the quality of life for the better! not by itself but together with talk therapy. For kids in school who had OCD and hyperactivity, medication helped their focus and worry enough to allow the talk therapy to proceed well. It changed my son’s life in kindergarten and let his brilliance shine through as he worked stuff out with a good child therapist, and it changed my life as a mother and professional. Please don’t dismiss medication as a way to help Jayden and you enjoy a calmer quality of life in general.

    • Maureen says:

      I agree with Lenore. There are ways that therapy will help, but don’t totally dismiss medical intervention. It does not mean that it has to be forever. If he had asthma you would give him and inhaler when he needed it. Trust your instincts. You will know what is right for you and your child. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I’m not totally against meds. I’m just hoping he can learn how to cope without them. Right now, the plan is for counseling for a couple of months and then his guidance counselor will refer us to someone else if it’s not helping. I’m also going to try some of the homeopathic remedies, to see if they have any effect. If it is determined that meds are what can help him, then I will do whatever it takes. Thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it!

  2. Kallie says:

    I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety is high school. Nothing as severe as Jayden is going through but I worried about the little details constantly; it was consuming my life. I went the medication route, along with a month or two of anxiety coping mechanisms, and it helped so much. Horses have that calming effect on me too. Random comment but was the chestnut Jayden was riding a horse from Iron Star named Teddy? He looks actually like the horse I have been leasing for 8 months. He could be the same horse. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10104537838277563&set=t.1320205898&type=3&theater

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I’m not totally against meds. I’m just hoping he can learn how to cope without them. Yes! That is Teddy! He learned to ride on him and a female horse, who’s name I can’t remember right now. Thank you again for your comment!

  3. Ann Michelle says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling. If you think it might help, a friend of mine has a small horse farm out in Monticello. They don’t really do riding lessons or have lesson horses, but she does have a miniature horse who is really friendly and just loves children. I’m sure she would be thrilled to have Jayden come out and spend some time with him, and wouldn’t charge you a cent. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll put you in touch with her!

  4. Karen Blasko says:

    Have you looked into relaxation or centering techniques for him? I have had great personal success easing anxiety with yoga, Trancendental Meditation and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique/ tapping). I’m a teacher in Newtown CT and after the tragedy in Sandy Hook on 12/14/12 many of these alternate therapies were offered to staff, students and the community. People of all ages have benefitted. You can research yoga for kids or family yoga for places in your area. Here in CT libraries and park and rec often have classes too at a much cheaper rate. TM and EFT are little to no cost to learn. My son is the same age as yours, he has done each with me at various times. Good luck to your son.

    • I have thought about that, but haven’t really looked into it. I definitely think he could benefit from relaxation techniques so I will look into it. Thank you for the suggestion! And I am so sorry about the Sandy Hook tragedy. I hope you didn’t lose any friends or loved ones. Thank you for your advice!

  5. Linda Riddle says:

    You’ve gotten some good suggestions here already. Also, I checked with a local retired friend who is a child psychologist. She said she has heard good things about EMDR with young children with anxiety. This stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing… specifically used for trauma and anxiety and with children. She suggested that you contact a local therapist: Lesley Clark or Susan Ellis. You definitely need some professional help and advice for your little guy. Best of luck to you…. (and thank you for all you do for foster dogs; I enjoy reading your posts. I’m fostering a poodle who needs HW treatment right now…)

  6. I’m sorry to read about your troubles. In all honesty I think counseling is the way to go. It too was a nervous child and afraid to leave my mom’s side (which all came from issues of not wanting to go on visitations with my dad). As I got older things got better and the counseling stopped. But, once I was on my own I felt something was wrong and went back and they put me on meds. which made me completely dopey, I didn’t know what was going on half the time so I stopped taking them. I noticed that I felt better when I was able to talk things over, get some sun and exercise and eat the right foods. I don’t know how much I’m helping you but professional help was what ultimately got me where I needed to be.

  7. Becky says:

    I wonder if one of your dogs or fosters could become a therapy dog for Jayden? I’ve read a lot about service dogs for PTSD and similar problems. Might be something that would help since he already seems to love the dogs you have and have fostered.

  8. Pingback: Appreciation! | Tails of a Foster Mom

  9. Deb says:

    Sorry to read about your struggles. This reminded me of what another blogger was going through. Her blog is sundrymourning.com

  10. Kym says:

    OH, sweetie, I am so sorry. Thank God he has you to help him through this. I’ve experienced anxiety as an adult, and it is very debilitating. It feels, at the time, completely out of your control. I chose to go the talk therapy, homeopathic route of treatment, mostly because anti-anxiety medication didn’t help me (I tried it all). My anxiety was too powerful for Xanax, and anti-depressants just made it worse. Talk therapy was brilliant for me. Meditation helped me tremendously, along with vitamin supplements, Bach flower remedies, and exercise. I have no idea how much of this applies to kids, but I went to youtube and searched for “meditation for kids” and it looks like there are many, many resources, including: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB68u20sYa4
    Of course, prayer is a kind of meditation, too. Good luck, and much love.

  11. Jayden seems like an incredible kid – and I am sorry he is having these issues. It must be incredibly difficult. Clearly sports are a healing thing for him – it’s a shame he couldn’t continue the riding. It definitely is expensive, but I wonder if there is a therapy program nearby that Jayden could participate in? Where in Florida are you?

  12. Pingback: Oh, the anxieties. | Tails of a Foster Mom

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