JoJo is my anxious child, though she did not used to be. She used to be so carefree, friendly, and full of life. But all of our life transitions have taken their toll on her. She is now an anxious, overthinking, introverted child. We have spent the better part of two years working on helping her manage her anxiety. We have done play therapy, talk therapy, gotten her an emotional support dog, talked about everything, exposed her to her triggers, and many other things. And we have made huge improvements.
JoJo’s anxiety played out in many ways. She was deathly afraid of bugs. If she saw one, she would scream and cry and claw at me. This would go on for hours, until she passed out from exhaustion. She would not be alone, ever; not to use the bathroom, shower, or even sleep. She had constant stomach aches; the gastroenterologist did all kinds of tests and found nothing. She struggled with transitions, changes to routine, and was obsessive about her eating. JoJo ate only a maybe 5 or 6 things, and if she did not have those things, she would starve. It was not an easy time for any of us, especially JoJo.
Dealing with anxiety can be difficult, especially in children. Anxiety triggers do not always make sense. For instance, JoJo is much bigger than ants and ants do not hurt people, but she was scared to death of them. The anxiety comes from an overactive, overly protective brain. People with anxiety are often very intelligent which makes sense. As a parent of an anxious child, it is very important that you remain calm, loving, and patient when dealing with their anxiety.
No one wants to see a child unhappy or anxious. Many anxious children have a parent who has anxiety themselves. While we all get anxiety from time to time, it is our job to help them work through any difficulties. It is important to understand these issues and get your child the proper help. It is important to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function “normally”, or as well as they can. And it is important to know that your child’s anxiety is not your fault. You are not a failure, and there is nothing “wrong” with them.
JoJo is now a much less anxious child. Most people would never even know that she suffers from anxiety. She sleeps alone, showers, and goes to the bathroom alone. She can be inside or outside alone. She even eats a few more things. Bugs are still an issue, but she recovers much more quickly. Her stomach aches are much less frequent. In my eyes, we are on the path of successful management of her anxiety.
Change and growth is always possible, but it takes support, knowledge, intention, and work. This Suburban Goddess Mom is doing everything she can to help her little goddess, JoJo, work through her anxiety and lead a much less anxious life.