Thankfully she was able to conquer that anxiety when she started school. The excitement of being old enough to go to school allowed her to work through the fear of other children. A few years later however, some new anxieties sprang up. First it was a fear of the wind (which was hard to deal with because we live on top of a very large hill and it is always windy here) and then it morphed into a fear of bad weather. Any bad weather set her off from just some rain to a thunderstorm. Then she began to fear getting lost when we were driving someplace unfamiliar. She refused to take all medication because of a previous bad experience. We added a fear of air travel when we flew to Florida for a vacation.
Finally I knew that we needed some help. She was diagnosed with several anxiety disorders but the psychologist who diagnosed her had little else to offer. He said we could try therapy but he didn't seem to be very confident it would help. He was suppose to give me some reading material but the recommendations never surfaced. Finally I made the decision that we could and would do something to help BB, even though I wasn't exactly sure what might help.
Now in this day and age, there are many sites that one can visit on the internet for help with children like BB. Some great places I found recently were : The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Keep Kids Healthy. I also found this article at about.com that really gives some good ideas on how parents can help kids deal with their anxiety.
So what did we do that helped BB the most? First and foremost, we didn't dismiss her fears or try to make her feel bad for having them. We agreed that these things could be scary and that we understood that they made her nervous. We reminded her that we would never put her in a situation that was dangerous or would be harmful to her. The second thing I did was to have her take a summer yoga class. While I am sure she no longer remembers most of the stretches, the one thing she really got out of it was learning how to take some deep restorative breaths. Often during and after yoga when her anxiety was starting to get the best of her, I would suggest sitting still for a minute and taking a few deep breaths. I would do it with her and continue to tell her to just focus on the breathing. Sometimes we could do a little bit of stretching- even in the car to get her to focus on something else. Now when she starts to panic, I can usually just take some deep breaths with her and she is able to get her body to stop the panic reaction.
The process of helping BB through her anxiety attacks was not easy, it was not quick and it still is an ongoing process. She has learned how to work through most of her anxiety and is a very active, talkative, outgoing teenager. Anxiety has not slowed her down in years.
Unfortunately our journey with stress and anxiety isn't over yet. SJ has been showing signs of stress and anxiety. Some of the signs are similar to BB's and some are vastly different. We are working right now with his pediatrician and the school to get a better understanding of why he is having these issues.
Have you ever dealt with stress and anxiety in your children? What was successful for you in dealing with it?