Behind the success – kids and anxiety

Kids and anxiety - what others don't see

child holding his mum's hands with zones of regulation cards showing he is in the green zone feeling happy and calm

Make a cuppa - it's a long one

This morning was our Soccer Wind Up. It’s a fabulous and fun occasion; soccer with friends, a bouncy castle, sausage sizzle and awards are handed out to the players. This would be a really exciting time for any young kid but for our little man, it was not.

His anxiety started to consume him

The past few days were riddled with “I don’t want to go mum” and “I feel anxious mum my tummy feels yuck”. We tried our best to reassure him; “it’s like getting a merit award at school.” I think it fell on deaf ears as his anxiety started to consume him.
So much so that last night I heard him crying in the middle of the night. He wasn’t awake; he was crying in his sleep. The last thing we spoke about was going to the Soccer wind up. He went to bed with that in mind.

The compromise

This morning we came to a compromise. We’d hold his hand and walk with him to get his medal if it all became too much for him.
When the time came, he was absolutely fine.
He accepted the medal by himself and was proud as punch. While he was up on stage accepting his awards he was all smiles.  No one knows or sees the emotional roller coaster that we all had to ride to get to that point.

Judging the parents of kids with anxiety

Parents of children with anxiety often get blamed and get told that they are the cause of it or we have a tendency to ‘cotton wool’ our kids.
It’s quite the opposite; we want nothing more than our kids to “relax” and “chill out” and be able to regulate their emotions themselves.
However in saying phrases like “don’t worry about it you’ll be fine” or “don’t be silly you’re making a big thing out of nothing”, it causes them more concern.
So we try our best to help them regulate those emotions but often we find ourselves in a lose-lose situation; you help them and they get used to it.
When you don’t help them or acknowledge their struggles, their self esteem and confidence sinks.

Fight or flight

We are constantly in fight or flight mode trying to find that balance. It is so exhausting but it’s also what drives us.
After the Wind Up I asked how he felt. He’s always better once he’s lived it; the unknown is a big thing for him. He identified being in his Green Zone – happy, relaxed and in a good frame of mind.

Parents like me

It’s emotional wins like today that makes all the prep talks, tears and outside judgment worth it. I hope by sharing this story, you are made aware of what parents like me go through. We don’t want to be that helicopter parent.  For the mental health of our babies we sometimes have to be.

Thank you for listening.

Support for parents like you

If your child struggles with anxiety then, chances are, you struggle with supporting your child with anxiety. It is really hard feeling like you are on your own. 

WACPPS run a course ‘Supporting Children with Anxiety’ and you can check out our What’s On page for information on when that runs next in person (likely early 2024). If you struggle to find time or capacity to attend courses in person, you want to do the course ASAP you can check out the online version of the course.

Support for children

If you would like to empower your child/ren to find calm and courage through anxiety you can check our our Finding Your Brave course that is running this school holiday.

Thank you

This post was originally posted by Karla D’Lima. Posted to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes to help our children with anxiety to function in the world in a way that others take for granted. This post has been re-posted with permission.

About the author

Karla is the mum of two amazing boys, a wife, gamer, cook, photographer and serial craft stasher. Buying craft supplies and using them are 2 separate hobbies right? Karla is the author of Lala’s Kitchen and Lala’s Lyfe, soon to be combined.

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