Welcome to my guest blogger this week: a parent of a socially anxious child. Please note that her name is not included to protect the privacy of her child.
I am excited to be Lisa’s guest writer on her blog this week. I’m not a blogger, I’m more of a reader. I was not sure what to write, but did have a few ideas when Lisa and I talked two weeks ago. I’ve decided to share with you the challenges of parenting an anxious child.
On July 3rd I took my two daughters to a local park to watch the fireworks. We arrived early and found a nice spot by the pond. The day before, they were excited about fishing on the pond. On the night of the fireworks, one of my daughters fished, and the other said, “Are you crazy, in front of all these people?” I’ve seen this situation before… Another one of my children, my son, would be so excited to attend pre-school and when he got there, he changed from a happy kid to a blank expressionless kid who could not speak. My son suffered with selective mutism for seven years, which I believe has prepared me for helping my daughter overcome her social anxiety.
I am not upset or surprised that my daughter won’t fish; I am actually thrilled that she came to the fireworks. I know this is a big step. Letting her stay home would only make her anxiety worse. Two months ago she wanted a birthday party and wrote a list of people she wanted to invite. There were about eight names on the list. She was very happy and excited about the idea of having a party for her 13th birthday. The day came to send out the invitations, fear and panic set in, and I knew the party was off. I had her invite one friend and together they had fun making tie-dye t-shirts and pillow cases. Would it have been more fun if there were eight people? Maybe… But I do know she did have fun!
A couple weeks ago, my daughter and I drove past a group of kids walking on the sidewalk. Immediately she recognized some of them and quickly hid her face. She didn’t want them looking at her. I tried to imagine what she was thinking. It’s important as a parent with anxious children to be supportive, loving, and alert to these events. In her mind, she feels like they are talking about her, or laughing at her. Having social anxiety really sucks, it is painful. It is hard for me to watch her go through this. She never showed signs of anxiety until middle school. She has been in school plays, choir, was the class speaker at her 6th grade farewell, etc. I learned that social anxiety usually takes root in middle school.
As a mom, my kids are very important to me and I will do everything I can to help them have a great life. Having two children with anxiety, I do what most parents would do, I read everything I can about anxiety. I’ve read Lisa’s book. Her book is helpful and the suggestions are excellent. The worst thing a parent can do is ignore the issue. And, as Lisa said at the end of Chapter 4, “…it will get better!” It may take some time, but I’ll keep being supportive. I have faith she will get over this and I will help her get there.
Thanks to my guest blogger for taking the time to share her experiences in parenting a child with social anxiety. If you have a story to share and would like to be a guest blogger, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your story!