My daughter suffers from Tourette syndrome, ADD and OCD, but her anxiety is the most debilitating of all. My husband and I were seeking some sort of plan and/or method to help us help her . We received a meeting invitation from a mental health councillor who had observed our daughter, (with mine and the school’s permission), with an idea in mind.
My husband and I were a bit reluctant to listen to this person’s idea of help, as we had been disappointed before, but were pleasantly surprised with her educated assessment and common sense approach to the matter.
Of course most of us parents, without wanting or knowing, use antiproductive methods of dealing with our childrens’ negative issues. Feeling compassion for my daughter, and wanting to be the perfect momma bird, all I want to do is protect my daughter and prevent any more sadness because of her anxiety. This is impossible!
So the counsellor gave us many coping skills and a better understanding of the illness and why people with anxiety do and feel like they do. She also gave us the proper way to approach our daughter during a panic attack, along with what to say and the proper wording to use.
All was well until…….
She asked us what would happen if, when our daughter became anxious, you would kindly and calmly ask her to go to her room. So my husband responds by asking, “You mean lock her in her room?” She asks, “She wouldn’t go and stay in her room if you asked her?” My husband and I just looked at each other. The same expressionless faces we had when one doctor told us to dress our daughter in the morning and forcibly place her on the bus if she was refusing to do so on her own.
Experiencing a panic attack has been said to be one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life and may take days to initially recover from.
For those parents experiencing similar situations, can you even imagine your child, calmly and voluntarily, going and staying in their room all while experiencing a panic attack?
So I answered by telling her this: “If we ever locked her in her room during a panic attack, she would most likely break the window to free herself.” She appeared somewhat surprised, which surprised me.
So why do I have a photo of a baby goat at the top of this post? First of all, I own a little goat farm, and secondly, that little kid and my kid have a lot in common.
Imagine taking this baby goat — all hyper, literally hopping around, climbing everything and anything possible, and trying to flee — and dressing it. Start with underwear, socks….you get the drift…. then pick it up and place it on a school bus and walk away.
This mental picture I’ve created is absolutely absurd, but as many parents will attest, so are the un-thought-out recommendations we receive from certain experts and professionals in the field child psychiatry.
We absolutely need these specialists. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m teaching them a bit of common sense.
Read more from me on my Searching for Sanity blog!
Awww… the poor baby!!!
I understand your frustration as well. I removed my son from school because of school anxiety, and related issues, and am now homeschooling him. Once I got rid of the major stressor of school, i could actually teach him coping skills that would work–for him. And SO many things got better for him. (Despite dire warnings that the anxiety would morph into agoraphobia and he will never want to leave the house-that never happened!) I got that lecture from the school psychologists about dragging him into school–someone even told me to call the police to get him there. Are you kidding me? What a horrible thing to do to a child who is experiencing anxiety of any sort! The time to teach them things is not while their are mid-panic!
We used a book called “Freeing your Child from Anxiety” by Tamar Chansky (i’m pretty sure she is in the Philadelphia area). And had some successes with that-using the term “Worry brain” for thoughts that were obviously exaggerated (“Is that your worry brain talking?”). We also used social stories, And another book, “From Panic to Power” when my son got older–he’s 12 now and can understand the biology of panic so he can say “i feel too much adrenalin right now”. It makes it MUCH easier to deal with.
Tamar Chansky also runs The Children’s Center for OCD and Anxiety in Plymouth Meeting PA, I don’t have experience with that though..
Best of luck to you–I hope things get better!