This summer A’s fear of stinging insects has hit an all time high. It’s FEAR. Pure fear. Paralyzing fear. Dry heaving fear. Heart racing fear.
At first I was sympathetic and then I became frustrated. A is known to be a bit dramatic (no idea where she got that!) and be very emotional so I thought it was just another phase to get through. Then she went to an outdoors camp. She had a panic attack and they called us. They worked through it and she stayed. We talked to the staff and they were very supportive. It was not until the parent visitation day that we realized how bad things were for A.
We have been working on this all summer. It’s been tough because A has missed out on things (she didn’t earn her badge at camp) and it’s had an impact on the family as we have had to leave events or split up. I’ve struggled to let her go to the pool or other places with friends because I don’t want her to be an extra burden on another parent.
As with most things for my kids I want to fix this for her but I can’t. The best thing I can do is give her the tools and support. Trying to fix it only made things worse. It was like extra pressure on her. The other thing I realised is that I was not modeling how to deal with stress and anxiety.
One of the tools we were given is the book, What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety which A and I work through to understand what her fears/anxieties are and how to address them one by one. It has also been one of those parenting experiences when my child holds a mirror up to me. As we worked through the book she often brought up my anxiety/stress and I used the opportunity to be honest and share how I deal (try to deal) with my stress. When A told me her stress was like large stinging insects swirling around her head I told her mine were like giant bricks, each brick a different worry, that sat on my shoulder weighing me down. That made a lot of sense to her and she opened up – she was not just worried about stinging insects but school, reading and some of “mean girl” issues she had at school last year.
We haven’t erased A’s fears but we have stopped them from escalating. She has tools that help her deal with her fears and anxieties and we have a plan for school or when she is away from home. It takes strength to overcome your fears and maturity to be open to talk about them. A doesn’t realise those gifts at this age but they are beautiful insights into the woman she can become.Read More