I wrote this post so that I could help anyone else who is also struggling with a child with an anxiety disorder.
In the beginning …
I think it started with Noah when he was around 10 months old. Before this he was very sociable would go to most people (family wise) but then something changed. I’m not quite sure what that something was but it’s definitely changed.
From then on he would struggle to go to different family members or even look at them. He would cling onto me for dear life and scream. At first I thought it was separation anxiety so I Googled it and it said:
Separation anxiety starts at around 10 months old up and continues to 18 months old. Seperation anxiety can be observed as early as 6 months and starts to settle down at around age 2.
The two year old mark came and went but Noah didn’t seem to be getting any better, he actually seemed to be getting worse.
I didn’t get a two year old check up for Noah but wish now that I had pestered the health visiting team for one.
So now at three years old, our eldest darling is still struggling and yet to be fully diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
I’ve had people say things like ‘oh he will grow out of it’, ‘you’ve got to get him out of that’, ‘he’s fine just a bit shy’ or ‘preschool will get him out of that!’
But believe me I know my son and I know this isn’t quite right.
For example when he went to pre school for the first time, I had to yank him off of a pole as he had entwined himself around it. Screaming to let him stay with me and not leave him. This absolutely broke my heart. But I needed to do this for him to try and get him to see that he can have fun without me.
If we take him to a park and another child comes up to play with him. He instantly goes into shut down mode. Head down, tenses up and refuses to move until that child is no longer in his proximity.
He’s still like it with some family members.
Don’t get me wrong I have seen some improvement with him at pre school. However he’s known these children 6 months so has grown accustomed to them now.
At home it’s a completely different story. He follows me around like a little lost sheep. He cannot relax if I’m not around.. if I go to the toilet, if I’m washing up or getting dressed he is right there. I could be in the same room as him for two hours straight and he won’t want to know me but as soon as he senses I’m not there, he’s right back by my side. He has anxiety about bedtime and will only go to sleep if I (not his dad) lays with him until he falls asleep. He will keep repeating ‘mummy sleeping in my bed yeah?’ Until I confirm that I will. I don’t stay asleep in his bed so when he wakes up in the night he’ll come and find me and get in with us.
I know some people will say that that’s just what having children is like – constantly appearing at inconvenient times like when you are on the toilet etc but I know my son and anyone out there who has a gut instinct about their child knows. This isn’t your a typical 3 year old. This child has severe anxiety issues. It breaks my heart to know that I can’t do anything to stop this anxiety building up inside him. All I want if for him to be able to deal with it in his own way so he knows how to control it now rather than not knowing how to control it as an adult.
Noah is due to start school in September and his anxieties are already running wild. He will constantly repeat that ‘he’s not big enough for big school until September’ to reassure himself that he won’t be going that day. He needs alot of reassurance on a day to day basis which I find heartbreaking. A three year old shouldn’t be worrying – he should be playing without a care in the world.
My point to this really is that if you know that something isn’t quite right then trust your instincts. Ignore the comments that make you put it off. You know your child. You know if they are struggling and if they need some support. So please provide the support that they need and don’t be persuaded to just let it go.