No one says it is easy to be a parent and it is alll the more challenging to raise an anxious child. As a mother of an anxious child, the irony of being an anxiety expert raising an anxious little girl does not escape me. For example, this morning was the tenth day of a new camp. I woke up, took a deep breath and prepared myself to hear a chorus of " I don't want to go to camp, I am tired, It is not fair, blah blah blah."
When I dropped off my little girl at camp, it seemed that every other kid was whizzing by us, with grins from ear to ear, high fiving counselors and forgetting to say good bye to their parents, as they eagerly embraced their day. And then there was me and little Alexandra...otherwise known as Velcro. She clung too me for dear life, looking like a deer in head lights, stating "please give me one more hug." With a light hearted tone, I replied back, on the count of three I am out of here, as I do every morning, and then counted to three and ran like the wind out of there. What Alexandra does not get to see is me standing on my tippy toes, peeking in through the window, observing how in matter of two or three minutes, she adapts to her environment and begins to interact with her counselors and friends.
It is so hard to compassionately push your child forward, as they protest, whine and fall apart but this is what we owe them. They deserve to learn, through hard earned life lessons, not through talk, that they in fact can face and over come their fears.
5 tips for parenting your anxious child:
1. Love them for who they are, with all of their strengths and weaknesses
2. Know that change is possible and ineffective behaviors can be replaced with effective coping
3. Have compassion for their struggles
4. Believe in their strength
5.. Help them come to understand they can do so much more than their anxious brains tell them is possible