Trying to help my anxious daughter, part 1
The change in her behaviour seemed to be sudden. It was like someone flicked a switch and she turned into this different person at the point of going to school.
The truth is, it’s probably been bubbling underneath the surface and it just took once incident for her anxiety to be triggered.
What’s the trigger?
My daughter has a fear of the fire alarm. Not unusual in young children. She doesn’t like how loud it is, although she understands why it has to be loud. She’s also worried that not everyone will get out. I’m not surprised she feels this way as she’s really caring.
My daughter is also a worrier. Bless her. She worries about things that we adults might be concerned about. Like is mummy parking in the right place!
And finally, she overanalyses things. I think this is because she has a need to understand.
That’s a lot to deal with when you’re nearly 7.
How this is affecting me?
• Doing my best
You can imagine that when this first started I was doubting myself. Am I really doing my best? There must be more I can do to help. Surely, as her mum, I should be able to fix this. I should know what the problem really is.
As mums, we can only do our best. Doing our best will not be the same every day. It depends on many things. Whether we’ve had a good night’s sleep. Which isn’t always possible with young children. Are we feeling well? Are we stressed? Don Miguel, who wrote the four agreements, explains it a lot better, link.
• Being a mum is hard
I never thought being a mum was a walk in the park but it’s times like these where I’m really tested that I realise how hard it can be and how much harder it could be.
Being a mum may be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world but it’s also the hardest. I remember seeing a video on YouTube. The job of “mum” actually written down and advertised but titled as Director of Operations. Then real interviews were held. Intrigued. Watch this. It may be hard but you are doing an amazing job.
• One size does not fit all
When my daughter was younger, I knew how to handle situations like these. That simply doesn’t work anymore. She is older. She’s stronger. She’s cleverer. My bag of tricks just isn’t working. I was literally feeling helpless. Really not a good place to be. How can I, her mum, be unable to make things better for her?
Every child is different. Every situation will probably need to be handled differently. Plus what may have worked when your child was 1 may not be the case at 5 or 9 or 12. This is the ultimate problem solving challenge. You can’t rely on looking into the past to guarantee that your actions will work.
Instead, it’s just a case of dealing with things one day at a time.
• You know your child best
When this first started happening, self-doubt started to creep in. I found myself questioning how well I know my daughter.
It’s unlikely that your child is going to tell you everything. Just like we don’t tell our closest friends and family everything. But, you are the person who knows them the best. You’ve watched them grow over the months and years. You’ve seen how they act and react. It’s easy to question yourself when things become challenging. It’s normal behaviour. However, just trust that you know them the best.
• Be kind to yourself
Vera, my inner critic, has had the perfect opportunity to tell me about my failings as a mum since this all started. The things I was doing wrong. Highlight my inadequacies. She can be quite harsh.
The easiest thing to do is to unleash the inner critic. Let that inner voice tell you what a rotten job you are doing. How you’re no good. But that really isn’t going to help your child. It most definitely isn’t going to help you. The first thing that we all need to remember is to be kind to ourselves. Just ask yourself, ‘would you talk to your best friend like that?’ Probably not. And after all, you are your own best friend. So be kind.
That’s ‘Trying to help my anxious daughter, part 1’ according to Mummy on a Break. To be continued………….
What would you do?
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