“We need to have a family meeting…” we said to our 9 and 11 year old girls. One was excited to hear whatever interesting thing was about to happen, and one was apprehensive. This is how things roll in our house.
We have child with anxiety. We have one child with lots of curiosity about the world.
My husband told them what happened at the mall. Just like we planned. He was matter-of-fact. He was kind. He was patient. He was present. He was everything he could be.
But that’s one of our malls. That’s where we go for good athletic clothes. That’s where we go for shoes… and for my work clothes… That’s where we do our Christmas shopping, our mother’s day and father’s day shopping… It just so happened we weren’t there on Saturday.
One of our kids immediately climbed in my lap, in a heap of tears.
One of our kids had about 50 questions about the event. We answered as many as we could, as appropriately as you can for a kid that age.
… fast forward a couple of hours to bed time…
Our kiddo given to caution and apprehension is scared. She’s scared to go to school tomorrow. She’s scared to go to the mall. She doesn’t understand why we won’t let her stay home from now on.
Now, she’s our child with anxiety. Those of you who have a child with anxiety know how hard it is to come up against a hurdle like this. A child with anxiety will obsess about an event like this for days or weeks. Going to school or to group events in public places may be a struggle for a long long time. A child with anxiety will struggle to sleep every night for the foreseeable future. A child with anxiety will complain of a stomachache and a headache for weeks on end.
I see you, parents. I am you.
What this looks like each day:
- Lots of hugs.
- Lots of listening.
- No minimizing. “Stop worrying.” “You have nothing to worry about.” “Stop complaining”
- Lots of validating. “It is scary. I’m glad you told me.” “I’m proud of you for talking about it with me.”
- Learn coping skills together: Deep breathing together at bedtime, etc.
A child with anxiety, after community violence like this… usually needs help.
Listen. At New Roots, we know what it’s like to live this out on a daily basis. We can help you. Please call us.
If we aren’t the right fit for you, for some reason, we will connect you with another counseling office.