Monday, February 17, 2014

Parenting the Child with Anxiety: Part 1 - Thick Skin

     Parenting a child with anxiety is a very emotionally draining task.  Not only do you have to learn to handle your child's emotions, but you also must recognize and control your own.  This can prove to be the hardest part of the entire struggle.

     A child with anxiety will often act inappropriately in social settings.  They may act goofy, try to make others laugh, become agitated, use bad language, etc.  They are doing this to try and make themselves comfortable in the situation they are in, not realizing it may actually bring them more attention, often negative attention.  This behavior often can be very frustrating for a parent to deal with.  It can cause embarrassment, and a feeling of being watched.  Our son is no exception to this. Carson has a tendency to act out when he is in social settings, trying to make himself more comfortable.  It's very difficult to get under control sometimes, as our correction only fuels it more. 

     This behavior leads to stares from people who don't understand. Parents talking about how the child "is a brat", "needs his butt beat", "has ADHD", "is a retard (BTW I HATE that word).", or "has parents who need shown how to be a parent".  Classmates parents alienate themselves and their children from you and your child. All of these hurt deeply as that child's parent.  Yes, we have heard every one of those about our son and ourselves.  Sometimes, from people who we thought of as "friends". 

     I think one of the hardest things for me as a parent is watching my child's friends stop playing with him. He's not invited to parties, sleepovers, or fun outings. It's not his fault that people judge him. People just don't get it. They see a child acting up and assume it's bad parenting or a bad child. They don't realize there could be an underlying problem.

    I've been in tears, more times than I can count, as a result of the looks, actions, or words from other parents, from feeling judged.  Parenting a child with anxiety requires "thick skin". You have to learn to hide the hurt and emotions from your child. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to do this. A few times our son has seen me cry.  He doesn't understand why, and often it only causes his anxiety to worsen and he begins to worry that he has done something bad.  It hurts as a mom to feel like you've done wrong and that you are failing your child.
      In addition to feeling judged, you also must deal with the feeling of frustration that parenting a child with anxiety presents. The inappropriate behaviors can be incredibly frustrating, especially in public settings. Learning to push that frustration aside and keep a positive, calm demeanor for your child is one of the most difficult things I've had to learn as a parent.  The motivation for it however, is more than enough to make me push through. My child needs my calmness to achieve his own sense of, there's always wine to help mommy relax, right?

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't even imagine your struggle right now. You are doing a great job and doing exactly what he needs. Other people are so quick to judge and that's not their place. Keep your head up :)



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