Parenting can be hard. It’s harder when you have a child that has ongoing anxiety issues. The ability to be patient and practice positive parenting all of the time can seem impossible with anxious children. It wears you down over time.
Comparison is the enemy.
You may look around you and it seems like other people's kids are content, relaxed and compliant. How do these parents do it? Easy breezy parenting. We all know comparing ourselves to others only makes us feel down on ourselves and we can end up feeling very alone in our circumstances. What we don’t know is what other parents are really struggling with regarding their kid’s physical or mental well being. We live in a society where we are made to feel that we need to look like we have a happy smiley high achieving family and our kids are a reflection of that.
So what about when your kid has numerous meltdowns a day, experiences food anxiety, performance anxiety or still suffers separation anxiety at the age of 8? What about when your child has no ability to emotionally regulate despite you knowing they should by now? What about your child that is so hard on him or herself that they constantly put themselves down? Do we hide this from others? How do we know that there are not other families with similar struggles? It's never productive to look at how happy and balanced the lives of those around us "seem" to be. Raising kids is chaotic and messy and the rate of mental health issues for children is growing. So you can be re-assured you are not alone.
Get talking and remove the stigma.
If you are not already doing so get talking to the people you feel comfortable with. Put yourself out there. Bring awareness to your situation. Allow yourself to be vulnerable instead of having things look like everything is shiny, happy families. Talk to other parents you know about the challenges you face with your anxious child. By doing so you are a part of the movement that removes the stigma that surrounds mental health. Why should anxiety be any different to having a physical ailment. Your head IS connected to your body right? In fact your mind and body are deeply connected and should be treated so.
You may find if that the parent or carer you speak to feels comfortable enough they will share too. Then the possibility for solutions begins. It may be a recommendation to a great health practitioner that they have found to be helpful with their journey. It could be a health tip for how to reduce anxiety. It may be an insight into how they identified food additives and numbers affected their child’s behaviour.
At the very least you will have had a chance to have a vent and feel you have been heard. Having those conversations helps us all know we are all human, with struggles, doing the best we can. It may also help us with finding some strategies to make an already tough parenting gig a little easier and help our kids feel better.