My son was 4 years old when we noticed a shift in his behaviour. He went from our quiet little observer to having major meltdowns over small things-like the wrong fork at dinner or a change in our plans. He had difficulty with transitions. Leaving home became a daunting task and for a few months, we rarely went out because it was very overwhelming for all of us.
Here I was, as an Early Childhood Educator with many years working with children, and a first time Mom to this beautiful little boy and it was my kid laying “star-fished” on the floor of Walmart crying because I had deviated from the plan that he had in his head to make a quick stop for dinner items; his source of comfort was predictability.
Below are some common signs of paediatric anxiety, does any of this sound familiar?
Excessive clinging, crying, meltdowns/tantrums
Sensitivity to sensory stimulants (loud noises, foul smells, bright lights, chewing on clothing or objects/biting nails)
Complaining of frequent stomach-aches and/or headaches *This was and still is a really common occurrence for our child. Now that he’s older and better able to articulate his emotions and the way they make his body feel, he still gets a “nervous tummy”, it’s his way of telling us that he’s anxious.
Difficulty with transitions or diversions to a plan or an activity
Needing constant reassurance for everyday activities
Constant worry about everyday things (separation from parents, losing toys, social situations)
If you have answered yes to any of these, your child could be experiencing paediatric anxiety. I encourage you to reach out and speak with your doctor, a friend, an educator or a counsellor. The comforting thing for me was as soon as I started talking about our son’s behaviour and really acknowledged our struggles out loud to friends, fellow educators and medical professionals, it became clear to me that he was showing signs of paediatric anxiety. Conversations with our parents who connected with our stories and situations began to flow and our “village” of support grew. It was a relief to know that we weren’t alone.
As a Mama Bear and an Early Childhood Educator, I felt compelled to do something that would help others who may be faced with paediatric anxiety. I wrote and published a children’s picture book, called Sweet Honey Kisses for an Anxious Bear, in hopes that it will be enjoyed by families, caregivers and educators at home and in the classroom. This book helps to support conversations about worries and offers different tools that may help children work through anxiety provoking situations and overcome adversity. You can find more information on how to purchase my children’s book, on my website at www.christinefishman.com or on my Facebook at Christine Fishman-Author.