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  1. #1
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    Default Kids and Anxiety

    My DD will be five on Feb. 4. Recently, she has begun having anxiety about a variety of things. She has begun asking a lot of questions about words that are acceptable (which I know is totally normal developmental behavior) but even after I reassure her that she is not in trouble for saying something, she worries about it. She tells on herself about everything and she has also been saying things like "I was thinking in my mind that I don't like a lot of people" or she even said she didn't like her grandparents because they are old. She has also been blinking her eyes excessively off and on. We recently experienced the loss of a pet and I think that she is still grieving that somewhat, but I don't really know that this is all that is going on.

    Has anyone else experienced an increase in anxiety at this age? I don't want to overreact, but I don't want to just let it go either.
    Stayin Home and Lovin It!
    DD 2-4-05
    DS 5-4-07

  2. #2
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    My son has anxiety about certain things-usually about not wanting to go to daycare the next day after a weekend and talking about it at night. He does do speech and OT therapy and lot of his anxiety issues are tied to confidence issues-feeling like he can't do things right, doesn't want to try-things like that.

    Did she overhear someone say a bad word or did someone say don't use that word around her? Kids at that age pick up on so much, she might have just heard someone say something bad and not want to do the same?

    The eye blinking is something that should be checked out by a doctor
    Allyson and Brad 11/23/02
    Aiden Harrison 6/10/05

  3. #3
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    I wanted to post here because I just called our pediatrician yesterday about my 5yo daughter. I'm waiting for his call back this morning but she's just been so ANXIOUS lately. She's always been a challenging kid, from day one, but a few months ago, my older sister said to me when seeing some of DD's anxiety, that she will keep an eye on DD, because she seems most like herself (my sister) in having anxiety. And lately we've had major freakouts:

    * In May she literally screamed and yelled for 20 minutes straight while we waited at a commuter rail station because she thought DD2 was going to fall into the tracks. Screaming, yelling, flailing, very physical. It was awful and so PUBLIC. Granted, we don't take the train a lot, but I thought this was way over the top. At the time, my mother said I need to keep my anxiety under wraps because it influences DD1. But I wasn't anxious at all at that time, I was just trying to keep everyone entertained during the wait. However, DD1 and I had a very anxiety-filled first few months of her life, and I worry so much that I set this foundation. OTOH, from the minute she was born, she was a challenge, so I think a lot of it is her personality as well.

    * A few days ago DD1 did the same thing because DD2 had her arm out the car window briefly - cried, screamed, so scared - for a long time.

    * And last week, while we were on vacation, she said to DH and I that her heart was breaking because she had been "so bad" and she thought we would leave her. I should have written down the words because I can't remember them exactly but they were pretty scary. I have to say that I'm glad she said she had been bad and not that she is a bad child because I've tried very hard to never label her that way, but to say that she is doing bad behaviors when she misbehaves. But that's what tipped me over the edge to call.

    * She often asks questions like "have I been bad today?" and "I'm gooder than DD2, right?" For a long time, I thought these were just her way of trying to figure out right and wrong and developmental but now I'm starting to wonder.

    Also, I mentioned these things to one of DD1's main teachers on Tuesday and she seemed very taken aback - she said they've never seen that, but it came up because she was saying DD1 had a screaming fit about bugs - VERY normal in our day-to-day lives lately - of course, DD1 could just be pushing our buttons, as she does, but I can't think of any other trigger that's happening now - except kindergarten starting in September - but it couldn't be that, could it? It's gone on for a long time. (ETA: She also is very very excited about kindergarten and taking the bus - at least on the surface.)

    I KNOW she's never heard us say we'd leave her if something is wrong, and I try to reassure her all the time that we love her no matter what her behavior (which is very challenging sometimes) so I'm not sure where she's getting all this from. Maybe it's just a developmental stage. She's always had a lot of fears on the one hand but OTOH she's also been fearless about so many things, so I'm not quite sure what to do.

    I started with her pediatrician because I first want to assess through her doctor if this is simply developmental or something more.

    Any thoughts? Thank you.
    Last edited by twinnyme; 07-22-2010 at 07:21 AM.
    Melissa & Dave ~ 5/31/03 * Becca ~ 1/14/05 * Bridget ~ 4/9/08 * Allison ~ 1/19/12
    The Mommy (& Everything Else) Journal

  4. #4
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    twinnyme-DS has made the comments about us leaving him before. He hasn't done it in a while but it was totally out of the blue. I think for them it could be anything.

    The fear thing to me sounds a bit odd but it might just be a general fear for her sisters safety. I wonder if there are any books that you could get that would help. With my DS social stories about how he can do thing and all of that have helped a ton! His therapists are doing social stories right now about Kindergarden and the bus to get him ready.

    Talking to your ped is a good idea but I would make sure just to reasure her and let her know things will he ok.

    And I have gotten the comments about my anxiety effecting DS since I have major anxiety issues. Now that he is 5 he gets it a bit more and if I make comments about being worried about something he will repeat it but it has nothing to do with the first few months of his life
    Allyson and Brad 11/23/02
    Aiden Harrison 6/10/05

  5. #5
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    Thank you so much for your quick response, allyray231. I use the library a LOT - years ago, I took out a ton of books about feelings - she's a very sensitive kid, too, in general about feelings. And a few weeks ago, I took out books about bugs, worrying, etc. and we've read a few. I try to use books/stories a lot, plus the reassuring, as you said.

    Like my sister, I also have some anxiety issues, so I worry about that part as well.

    Sometimes I think the sister thing is good because it means she at least loves her sister (right?) as we had a very rough beginning of sibling-ship with her. But it is odd, too.

    She also often tells me that she "just can't" stop thinking about something or stop herself (impulse control) on things. My mother once said she was "playing" me but I've always thought it was a little more than that.
    Melissa & Dave ~ 5/31/03 * Becca ~ 1/14/05 * Bridget ~ 4/9/08 * Allison ~ 1/19/12
    The Mommy (& Everything Else) Journal

  6. #6
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    My 5 year old is totally like this. He has been for some time, but it has definitely stepped up in the past few months. He will get thoughts in his head and just obsesses about them, and it is like he doesn't know how to get them out. One day he saw a commercial where someone pulled off a bandaid from a cut, and it stressed him out so badly that he couldn't sleep. He said that he just kept seeing it over and over in his mind. He can't handle any amount of change and he worries about the most random stuff. One day, there weren't very many kids in his class, so they combined classrooms. He went, with his same teacher and his friends, to the room that he was in for all of last year. He freaked out and cried all day. One day his class was going to the pool, and I had to take him in literally kicking and screaming because he was afraid that they'd never come back from the pool. One night he was afraid to go to sleep because he was worried that there would be a fire and a tornado at the same time so that we couldn't go to the pantry like we were supposed to because the fire would get us, but we couldn't go outside either because the tornado would get us.

    I was like this as a kid, too; I'd cry when the teacher would re-arrange the chairs. The funny thing is, I'm definitely not modeling the behavior for him. Now I've swung completely the other way, and I worry about basically nothing (there are actually some things I probably should worry about but don't).

    We've had good luck with the following approach (which only works if you are a Christian, so take it or ignore it at will):
    1) When he expresses anxiety the first time, we offer to pray with him. We pray for his specific concern, and usually some version of Phillipians 4:6-7 (6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.) Or 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast your cares upon him for he cares for you.)
    2) If he brings it up again, we tell him to pray about it.
    3) Any subsequent times he brings it up, we offer to pray with him again.

    This has been working really well. But we believe that anxiety and fear can really only be dealt with by God and we want to teach him to turn to God for help when he needs it. If those weren't your goals, it would be a bad strategy
    Megan and Derek: 6/15/02, Dean: 6/27/05, Reed: 10/3/07, Ruby: 11/21/11
    My determined purpose is that I may know Him.

  7. #7
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    I'm not sure those are our goals, Megande, but interestingly enough, I am thinking of starting to take her to a children's Mass at our church. One of her friends from school goes, and I always planned to start her in CCD starting in first grade, but I've heard now that our church (which we haven't regularly attended but which both girls were baptized in) does a nice Children's Mass, so I do plan to take her to that. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with the rest of it.

    However, I appreciate your taking the time to write, and tell me the stories about your son. Perhaps it's just a 5yo thing, or a personality thing. I also was just talking with a coworker this morning about how her and my personalities are to not like change in general (though I too have gotten MUCH better at it over the years, especially after having children!).

    Also, DD1 is scared of thunderstorms, etc. Highways also recently over the last couple of years have been a trigger point as well - which is unfortunate, as I often drive by myself with the girls for about 4 hours each way. She also used to love dogs but is sometimes scared of them now (but that is improving).

    I was thinking of something else to write but now I can't remember - oh, right, she told me this morning that she'd had a dream about kindergarten and when I asked what it was about she said that she had forgotten her backpack at home "but it was okay because they had a backpack for her at school - the same one!" So maybe kindergarten IS affecting her more than I thought; I *loved* that she was able to cope with the situation - at least in her dream - and found a solution. That made me feel slightly better.

    It's so good to hear from others who have dealt with or are dealing with this - thank you for sharing. It's weird because the kid is SO fearless that she's been climbing monkey bars from an early age and we put her in gymnastics at 2.5 because of this. She's fearless about so many things and scared about so many other things - but maybe that's just all kids.

    Another trigger might be that she's been dealing with some issues around bullying lately. Thankfully, this time she is not the one being bullied, but she's witnessing another girl at her school - a good friend of hers - being bullied. The school is working on it. But last year, in September, we switched her to a new school, because she WAS the target at that time, and it was awful. At four! But that's another thread. Lately, she has been wanting to talk about relationships a lot. It's wonderful but seriously she could talk forever about her friends, their struggles, and dilemmas. Seriously, a half-hour one night without stopping or taking a breath - we finally had to stop her to go to bed. I don't think it's a stalling technique, she actually said something that night that broke my heart - "but we won't have time to talk tomorrow." And our days are rushed often, it's hard. And, I want to encourage her to talk but I worry this type of situation is going to happen at every school, she's just so sensitive - which is good AND bad. I'm trying to talk with her now about possible solutions and what she can do; instead of focusing on the issues, trying to see the positives of a situation. I feel the need this year to tell her that she can't leave school whenever this happens, that she has to learn to deal with it. I also told her that in kindergarten there will be a lot more kids per class and it might happen more, and she has to learn to deal with everyone, even kids who are different. (We've been also having LOTS of discussions about how kids are different and have different talents, like how one of her friends can ride a bike w/o training wheels but she can tie her shoes - she gets upset if she can't do something someone else can.) She told me that in kindergarten kids will be older and won't tease as much. If only. So, we're focusing on problem solving this time around.

    She just seems so emotionally fragile lately and I'm trying to support her the best way I can. These emotional issues are much harder to deal with than non-sleeping issues, and I NEVER thought I'd say that - ever!

    ETA: So sorry for the book-length posts I'm writing but I appreciate the support!
    Last edited by twinnyme; 07-22-2010 at 08:07 AM.
    Melissa & Dave ~ 5/31/03 * Becca ~ 1/14/05 * Bridget ~ 4/9/08 * Allison ~ 1/19/12
    The Mommy (& Everything Else) Journal

  8. #8
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    Parents magazine in the last few months had an article about kids and anxiety, and said it's completely normal for kids to get anxious at that age. They're learning so much about the big world out there, but they haven't yet been able to completely differentiate reality from imagination. And since they see themselves as the center of the universe they still see themselves as having incredible powers - if I think bad things about my sister they will come true.

    Perhaps part of your daughter's freak out at the subway was that she was picturing in her mind something happening, and was having trouble understanding that it was just imaginary and not really happening.

    Of course some kids do have anxiety disorders and only a doctor can diagnose that, so if you're worried it's definitely worth exploring. My father is a child psychologist and I know there's a lot of great therapies (as opposed to medications) to help young kids deal with anxieties or with big imaginations that get away from them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Tree
    I know there's a lot of great therapies (as opposed to medications) to help young kids deal with anxieties or with big imaginations that get away from them.
    See, this is why I think I've been hesitant to even start looking into this - because I don't want her to be labeled and/or recommended for medication. If medication is something down the road (a LOOOOONGGG way down the road) I may consider it then, but I guess that *I* want reassurance that this is developmentally appropriate (or not) and then go from there. A friend has already sent me the name of a child therapist she used with her son - if it comes to that - but I just want to start exploring this now.

    I'll have to check out that Parents magazine article, thanks. I think maybe I also should read an early childhood education textbook - or another book about children and anxieties - to help determine for myself if this is developmentally appropriate. Any recommendations?

    And thanks to all of you.

    I'm heading out to pick up my girls and head out for a weekend away so I may not check in again for a few days - but I appreciate everyone's input.
    Melissa & Dave ~ 5/31/03 * Becca ~ 1/14/05 * Bridget ~ 4/9/08 * Allison ~ 1/19/12
    The Mommy (& Everything Else) Journal

  10. #10
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    interesting reading!

    my DD1 will be five soon.
    she has been a little OCD/anxiety her whole life. but i'm also like that too. so i just dont know if she is trying to follow my behaviors somettimes. i think she does have a touch but i just cant tell how much is really her or if she is picking up my lead.
    for her its mostly about her things. everything has a place and she freaks out if something isnt in its place. she just likes organization and order.
    but she does worry sometimes too.
    we recently went to a kiddie park on vacation. she had to carry the map of the park the entire time so we wont get lost and we need to know where we are.
    she also asked alot of questions about the rides - are there seatbelts, how do we stay safe, wont we get hurt if they dont buckle us in etc etc etc.
    j & k 1/03
    dd #1 8/05
    dd #2 3/07

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