It drains your energy. There are days of tears, yelling, and frustration. But there are also days of peace, happiness, and pure joy. In those darkest moments, you need to look for the light, to find that small piece of happiness to pull you through. There is definitely heartbreak in raising a child with anxiety, but there is absolute joy if you know where to look.
Accept That There Isn’t A Cure For Anxiety
There is no cure for anxiety. In fact, our brain is wired to feel worry and stress. It is part of our fight, flight or freeze response to danger. So instead of looking for a “cure”, you should look for ways to better cope with and handle the stress and anxiety that your child may feel.
It is so hard to see your child struggle. When your child has problems, you just want to jump right in and solve them to take away the pain. My son has battled depression and anxiety for a long time, and for years, I just wanted to find ways to take it away, and “cure” him. It wasn’t until I stopped chasing after the fix or cure, that I could then focus my attention on really helping him through his feelings. I was fixating on the wrong things… a cure that wasn’t there and for him to feel no pain at all.
Look For The Small Successes
Instead, as a parent, you need to look for the small successes. Maybe they didn’t cry this time when they didn’t win the game. Or they didn’t hit anyone during their meltdown. Or they told you what they were feeling…even though they yelled and screamed. They were communicating!
Once you start teaching them healthy strategies to cope with their anxiety, you will notice times when they start to use them. Celebrate! You are having success raising a child with anxiety. It isn’t easy for them to manage it all, and when they do start taking a break when they need it, or talking to you when they are upset, or choosing not to act out, these are all small steps to helping them manage this for life.
Realize That Success Is Not A Straight Line
When you start noticing the small steps forward, you may also notice the slides backwards. If they can choose not to hit once, you expect it the next time. But, it doesn’t always work that way. Don’t worry or fixate on these setbacks. Expect it to happen. You want your child to find their way to making better choices, and that takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, and a lot of patience.
Your child is so capable, and so are you! Over time, they start to implement small changes into how they manage their stress and anxiety. These small steps will eventually lead to big changes. If you fixate on the small slides backwards, you fail to notice all the gains that have been made.
The Absolute Joy Of Anxiety
There really is joy in watching your child with anxiety. Even with my own child, I have seen tremendous growth in his character. He is more resilient. He has handled so much and has had to dig himself out of some very dark places. I am so proud of him. I often wonder if I have as much strength as I see in him.
Not only that, but he has learned so many different strategies. He has has countless therapy sessions and social skills groups. And his is not only applying what he has learned, but he is helping others who may be suffering. Teachers have often shared that in groups, he is able to look at someone having a hard day and say, “I know what you are going through. Try doing this. It has helped me.” Powerful.
We are often faced with challenges and they make us stronger. Find the joy and pride of watching your child find solutions to their own problems. To apply what they have learned and help others. To see their confidence and resilience grow in their own selves. You will see it when you look for it!
Lastly, remember that you are an amazing parent. There is a huge emotional weight when you have a child that struggles with their own mental health. Tears will happen. But, step back and realize that you have done amazing work. If you are helping your child, and intentional in ways to ease their anxiety, then you are being a wonderful, loving parent.
If you are struggling to find that joy or passion in parenting, we are here to help. It is difficult to go through this alone. We can help you find ways to help your child soothe their own anxiety. Parenting is tough work, but extremely rewarding.
Raising A Child With Anxiety? How To Find The Joy
By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach