Stifle the Judgement and Recognize Childhood Anxiety

When you believe that you are the reigning panic attack champion of your familial crew, you are faced with a tough reality when you recognize that your child also struggles with extreme anxiety challenges. My concern has been growing as I have watched my child stumble through her schooling with increasing regularity over the past few months. Her grades have slipped, and while she still does fairly well on average, she just seems disconnected.

I do not believe that the mass education system is an ideal fit for a large portion of the children in today’s classrooms, and for a great many, it’s more about surviving than thriving. This is not a new problem. Nevertheless I maintain a strong commitment to the belief that people will match your expectations of them. I push my children to lose the excuses and work hard. I am not looking for perfection, but I won’t accept sloth or apathy either.

So when I received an email letting me know that my daughter had achieved a seriously underwhelming 45 (out of 100) on a grade, I was significantly less than thrilled. I quickly moved from confused into angry. By the time I picked her up from school and could ask her about the grade, I had made it all the way to furious.

me – “How in the world did you make a 45? Aren’t your grades important to you?”

her – Silence. Eyes glazed over while staring blankly out of the car window.

me (fuming and in total disbelief at her indifference) – “Look at me when I am speaking to you! Don’t you understand how one grade like this will affect your average? Doesn’t this bother you at all?”

her (facing me and responding in a sad quiet tone) – “I do care, but the teacher said that it’s too late to turn my paper in now.”

me (steam coming out of my ears and as I frothed at the mouth) – “You didn’t turn it in!?!?  You actually know that you didn’t do the assignment at all? So really you should have received a zero and that 45 was a gift? Did you forget to do the work or did you just blow it off?”

her – “No, Mom. I wrote a paper about some rocks we collected, but I couldn’t find the last page when I was supposed to turn it in. I told her that I was missing the page when she asked everyone for their papers, and she said that she didn’t know what to tell me.”

me (about to get a serious parenting wake up call) – “So what did you do with the rest of the paper that you still had?”

She looked away again and gave a little shrug of her shoulders.

me (instantly realizing what had really happened and feeling like I was on the receiving end of a well-earned gut punch) “You threw the entire paper away because you were missing that one paper.”

She nodded.

And in that moment, I felt my heart twist and break. I finally saw her and understood what had occurred. Her problem had not been one of indifference but rather her inability to see past the panic. She had been so distraught about missing one page in a report that she couldn’t think about potential solutions like asking for partial credit or requesting the opportunity to rewrite that individual page. Her mind chose the path of least resistance – shut this problem down by discarding it.

Her challenge was her extreme anxiety. Mine was my complete inability to recognize her struggle before applying my own assumptions and misjudgements. She had needed support, but I had gone on the attack instead.

I face anxiety struggles constantly, yet I still forget how debilitating the most innocuous of moments can become when panic attacks hit. You couldn’t pay me all of the money in the world to convince me to spend one year of my life as a kid in school again, but I watch my children head there every day and think nothing of it.

All children face challenges, but those who deal with anxiety disorders experience them at an exponential level. Some wear their emotions on their sleeves as they cry, rage, or have panic attacks. Others appear entirely indifferent and unaffected despite the turmoil within. There are always clues to be found, but these hints are quickly obscured when misunderstandings and snap judgements enter the scene. When that happens, the hurt grows and opportunities to learn and heal vanish.

We push our children because we worry about them. We become angry when they stumble because we want them to succeed. In our efforts to help them to avoid various hardships, we create others to take their place. We seek to train them on the intricacies of life, yet we miss the most basic of lessons that they constantly offer us. We have to ask more questions, dig deeper into their stories, and stifle the judgements if we truly want to understand what is happening in their worlds. As parents, we believe that we are our children’s greatest teachers, but the real truth is that they are ours.

Love and light always – Jo

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stifle/”>Stifle</a&gt;

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. José María López
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 18:07:24

    I see hints of perfectionism here. If you expect perfection you cannot accept to turn in an incomplete paper. The little devil inside your head tells you: That´s not an option!! You´re screwed!! She needs a boost in self-esteem because being a perfectionist is a huge hit to her confidence.
    I speak from my own experience.

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Jan 29, 2018 @ 21:58:27

      We consistently manage to be our own worst enemies. I agree with you. If it wasn’t perfect, then she perceived it to be a total loss. I think that we all do this. If we don’t achieve exactly what we want, we discard the whole thing / idea / plan / dream. We need look for more options. 🙂

      Reply

      • José María López
        Jan 29, 2018 @ 23:36:43

        Check out these articles on human values system:
        http://vievolve.com/values-systems-4/
        http://www.artofwellbeing.com/2017/09/05/gravesmodel/
        When you are at level 4 (order) you tend to stress out for trying to do everything right, according to what you think others expect from you (community oriented). Then moving forward to level 5 means that you move your core values towards creativity, success and achievement (individuality oriented).
        It is incredible to see tons of very successful high level executives with low self-esteem because of their perfectionism. It is very common to notice that their focus is on the future, many of them do not even care about all the great things they have achieved in the past. So, to move them to level 5 (competence) is always good to make them remember their past achievements and make them do little things where they excel so they can enjoy of present success more often.
        So, less focus in the future and more in the past and present successes. That´s a good self-esteem boost and a way to move them from a very structured and narrow-minded level 4 to a more creative and competitive level 5.

      • MoJo
        Jan 30, 2018 @ 08:47:10

        I think that we bounce back and forth, but hopefully we do get a little wiser and ideally a little happier each time we bounce back. 🙂

  2. juliehcares
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 19:00:59

    Poor thing! My son gets anxious as well. He has not turned in papers and I have emailed the teachers and he has been able to do it again. Thank you 504 accommodations.

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Jan 29, 2018 @ 22:49:02

      I feel like the teacher would have cut her some slack if she had known what had happened. I imagine that she hears “I can’t find my paper” ten zillion times every week. The problem is that my daughter hides it so well. She seems fine and although she usually is, sometimes she really isn’t. I should research the 504s. Those have been such blessings for some of the kids we know.

      Reply

      • juliehcares
        Jan 29, 2018 @ 23:02:25

        Please do. That way even if she doesn’t say anything, the teachers know she may need a little more help and actually do it. Email the teacher about the paper and see if she will redo it too

      • MoJo
        Jan 30, 2018 @ 07:09:10

        I emailed her, and I think that she is going to show her something on the computer. Honestly I don’t think that this will help, but I also mentioned some other ideas I had. I may ask her to allow my daughter to rewrite the paper more for my daughter’s sake than anything. I don’t expect her to change her grade, but I want my daughter to feel like she was able to finish the assignment versus remembering it as a failure she could never remedy. Love the advice sweet friend. You’re wonderful. 🤗

  3. KDKH
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 20:23:46

    Yes, they are our teachers. I must have needed remediation because I had 4 wonderful children as teachers! Good post.

    Reply

  4. LA
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 20:26:13

    Xoxo

    Reply

  5. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 21:20:05

    I think there’s a great deal of truth and wisdom in your post. My kids are young adults now. I always say, if I could go back and bring them up again, I’d “get off the parental merry-go-round.” By that, I mean stop worrying so much about grades and what the other parents think is right. Just do what’s right for your kid. Most importantly, I think if kids do well, their parents believe they’ve done a great job and raised their kids the right way. Looking back, I don’t think if your kid gets into Harvard it means you were a better parent.

    Reply

  6. shalini
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 22:08:04

    Hi Jo,
    I agree to your sentence, even I do not want to spend one year on school for all the money in the world. Hated school life, the constant pressure, work load, inability to choose. And the panic attacks.
    Your post came at an apt time, I was just passing by a school gate in the morning. And an involuntary shudder just escaped me… Nahhh… Not again… Don’t want to see a school.
    But at the same time, this is where all the children of the world are pushed to go in and excel. It’s a no-win situation.
    The only difference in your daughter and your situation is I would have asked my parents what to do

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Jan 29, 2018 @ 22:32:48

      I still have dreams that I am walking into a classroom and have forgotten that there is a test. I literally wake up in a panic every single time. It’s part of growing up, but it makes me want to hide under a blanket when I think about it!

      Reply

  7. inspirationpie
    Jan 30, 2018 @ 14:04:22

    Ahhhh…I can so relate to this. I see it in myself and my kids. Realizing it and being aware of it it the first step to helping them.

    Jo-Ann

    Reply

  8. misifusa
    Feb 01, 2018 @ 19:12:26

    Oh Jo, this is such a relevant post for all parents and kids. We do our best to be the best parents we can and sometimes things happen that teach us (kids and parents) lessons to unite us and to help us along the way. I love how you ended the post – As parents, we believe that we are our children’s greatest teachers, but the real truth is that they are ours. – no truer words were spoken. You’re a great mom! Don’t worry…xo

    Reply

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