The experience of raising a child with anxiety challenges is unlike any other. Sure, having children is one of the most universal things, but as a mom of a child who shows signs of anxiety, it can feel like you’re all alone. Every day is a struggle to alleviate their individual challenges while encouraging their unique personality. But the people around you don’t understand how hard you’re working, and how much you believe in your child. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re set up for failure.
Don’t believe that feeling. There are thousands of parents who are going through exactly what you are. They’re searching for balance, assistance, and a little bit of a break. In fact, what you’ve been experiencing is more normal than you may think. These are 10 truths that parents like you feel every day, too.
1. The General Public Doesn’t Understand Anxiety
Isolation is a terrible feeling. One minute you’re walking through the grocery store just like everyone else, and the next minute your child is overwhelmed with an anxiety attack. You start to feel like all the other shoppers are staring at you, judging your child and your ability to parent. In those moments you’re wishing for just one person to understand the unpredictable nature of anxiety and offer your child (and you) a little compassion.
2. School Administration Can Feel Like the Enemy
It’s not the school’s fault—at least not all the time. A single school administration is responsible for the well-being and education of hundreds of students at a time. They don’t always have the resources to dedicate to the specific needs of your child. But sometimes it can feel like they’re just trying to fight you every step of the way. It can feel frustrating—even impossible at times—but ultimately, building a good relationship with the administration is worth the effort for the success of your child.
3. Friendships Are Difficult
Anxiety often shows up during stressful situations. Unfortunately, building new friends can be one of the most stressful situations for a child. Sometimes, the quick change in their behavior might could make it difficult for new friendships to form. And of course, the longer it takes for your child to build strong friendships, the more anxious they feel about them. But great friendships are what keep us all going, and it’s no different for your child. As you teach your child to work out differences, their friendships will grow.
4. Travel Is Overwhelming
Children with anxiety thrive in routine. Knowing exactly when they’re going to eat, sleep, and play helps them predict their day and manage their anxiety. While traveling can be an enriching experience, it can also overwhelm your child. You’ll find yourself constantly weighing the pros and cons of taking trips: the great experiences you’ll have and the difficulty of navigating all the stress.
5. Prioritizing Your Other Children Is Challenging
Spending equal quality time with each of your children might be your goal, but the heartbreaking reality of managing anxiety is that it is time-consuming. This means your focus often turns solely on the child experiencing an anxiety attack. This can lead to your other children feeling excluded or ignored. But a balance isn’t impossible to achieve. Be honest with your kids. You can make the small moments stand out as together time, just by saying, “I love you, and I’m glad to be with you right now.”
6. You Forget to Maintain Your Own Balance
When so much of your focus is on your children and their health, it’s easy to forget what you need. Months go by before you check in with yourself and your own mental clarity. A simple way to stay connected with your own needs is to engage in mindfulness practices with your children. Do the meditations with them and use those moments to keep yourself balanced.
7. Your Options for Treatment Are Limited
If every person is unique, it stands to reason that every treatment plan would be unique. In most countries, however, we find that one plan is prescribed to everyone despite their individual circumstance. When that treatment doesn’t work for your child, you start to feel hopeless. In these moments, remember that there is always another option. Alternatives do exist, you just have to keep looking.
8. Helping Your Child Gets Expensive
Treatment is expensive. There’s no way around it. Traveling to different doctors, paying for therapy and specialty foods adds up quickly. You find yourself taking yet more time off work to pick your child up from school. And nothing feels more pressing than the shadow of limited finances. If you feel yourself buckling under the stress of money troubles, take a deep breath. You aren’t alone. What you’re working toward is worth the sacrifice.
9. Your Child’s Anxiety Symptoms Are Unpredictable
The erratic nature of anxiety means that you can never plan for it. You just have to live your normal life and hope for the best. But naturally, you’re always worried about when the next wave of anxiety will hit. That acute, persistent stress will take a toll on anyone. Some days it just feels like one more thing you really don’t need to deal with.
10. You Wouldn’t Trade It for Anything
At the end of the day, these stresses all pale in comparison to the joy of raising your child. Some days are more taxing than others, but you wouldn’t trade any of it because it’s what makes your child who they are. Now, if only everyone else could understand this! In the meantime—share these articles with other parents you think may need the support, and we’ll continue to share tips and tricks to make it all a little more manageable.