Do You Think Your Child has Anxiety?

Children show signs of anxiety in different ways than we do as adults. So do you know what the signs of anxiety in children are? And what to do about it.

Military life can bring all sorts of challenges, and our children are definitely not excluded from experiencing the anxiety. But often times anxiety presents itself so differently in children than it does in adults and so often we miss it or misdiagnose it.

When I was completing my education as a marriage and family counselor I did my practicum and internship experience working in a family counseling program that served a school district. We worked with individual students in the schools through classroom visits, group work, and family sessions. Often I would work with children who were presenting behavioral issues- misbehaving in class, uncontrollable behavior, not completing work, disruptive and distracting to other children. Teachers wanted them tested for ADHD. When I watched these children in class I would find the same behavioral issues in the classroom. I would talk to their parents and find that often there was behavioral issue at home as well. But then I would talk to the children, get a history of their lives from their parents and you would find out that there were many events in the child’s life that are anxiety provoking.

Things like:

  • parents divorcing
  • new sibling
  • deployed parenting (I worked in a district around a military base)
  • new student
  • living with family other than parents
  • abuse in their past

Of course things like this would cause anxiety in anyone, especially in a little child that doesn’t understand them fully. And because they don’t fully understand the emotions of what they are going through anxiety often exhibits itself in children through behavioral issues and physical symptoms.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • stomach issues- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • lack of sleep or excessive sleep
  • head aches

Behavioral symptoms of anxiety include:

  • disruptive in the classroom and at home
  • becomes disobedient and defiant
  • irritabilitiy

So now that we have identified the signs of anxiety in children, what do you do now?

If your children are exhibiting some of these symptoms in regards to a new life change (like the ones listed above- or even more) then before you jump to conclusions about a behavioral diagnosis like ADHD or ODD it might be worth looking into anxiety as a possible explanation. Especially if these symptoms seem to appear after a life change rather than having been present prior to a large life change. ADHD is over diagnosed in children because anxiety mimics these symptoms and putting your child on ADHD medication will not solve anxiety issues.

Finding a therapist or counselor who is trained to work with children can help you by assessing for anxiety. A school counselor can be a great start for this as they are trained in assessment and diagnostics just like any other counselor. They are also often plugged into resources in the community and can help find a good fit for your family.

The military also has resources to help children who are experiencing anxiety due to life moves. There are MFLCs in DOD schools and are a wonderful resource.

Counseling with Children:

While talk therapy with children may be difficult there are several creative therapeutic approaches that work well for children.

Play Therapy

This is a wonderful option for young children. Finding a counselor trained in play therapy can be a wonderful avenue. This is a non-traditional therapeutic method that works for young children because the therapist works with the child to help reveal potential causes of anxiety or other stressers through the child’s play. For young kids play can reveal subconscious thoughts and emotions that otherwise would not be able to verablize

Art Therapy & Music Therapy

Art and music therapy can also be great for young children as counselors use these techniques to help unveil different patterns. I worked with a kindergartner and often used art therapy techniques. At the beginning his drawings were often very violent in nature. He had a a childhood of being in and out of foster care, back with his mom and finally adopted by his older sister. Over the course of several months of working with him and his sister and a few other caretakers we were able to help resolve some of the behavioral issues that were being presented at home and in the classroom by using his drawings of violent tendencies to work through what he has gone through. At the end his drawings were more family oriented. Now art therapy alone did not do this but it gave us a direction to take us in while we worked in family therapy.

Family Therapy

And finally family therapy. I think this is necessary no matter what method the child is working in. Children are a product of their environments- like the stressers military life bring. If parents are anxious then it can leech over into the kids and so we have work as a family it also provides methods to help the parents work with their children at home.

 

So if you think your child may be dealing with anxiety, here are the tried and true symptoms and potential causes of anxiety and different avenues to pursue.

If you are interested in coping strategies for children here are some great ideas!

Children show signs of anxiety in different ways than we do as adults. So do you know what the signs of anxiety in children are? And what to do about it.

Solo Parenting: How to Cope When you Feel Alone

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

One of the first things I heard after I married my husband was that I might was well get used to being alone, after all I’d spend the majority of our marriage being a single parent. While yes in our two years of marriage we have spent the same if not more time apart then living together, I am not nor will I ever be a single mother, no matter how much SOLO parenting I do.

On many non-military blogs I have seen many articles criticizing married moms who have spouses that are away a lot calling themselves a single mom. I have seen posts in military groups, criticizing spouses for describing themselves as single moms. But I get it. It is hard knowing that daddy or mommy is not coming home at 5:30 to give you a bit of a reprieve. No one else to change diapers, rock the baby to sleep, help fix dinner, or just allow you to escape for a quick shower! So I think we need a term to describe it, and then we need to use it!

Solo-Parenting.

Whether you are solo parenting due to a deployment, TDY, field time, or any other number of reasons for however long it can be exhausting.

So how do you cope with Solo Parenting?

There are some specific strategies that can be used to help those solo-parenting when you start to get overwhelmed.

~ Prior to your Spouse leaving, talk about any potential big decisions that will need to be made.

If you talk about any decisions that need to be made before your spouse leaves, then you won’t be stressed about making any big decisions alone or trying to get in touch with your spouse who made be unreachable. This is one of the differences between solo parenting and single parenting is that you have another person to be a sounding board for potentially difficult decisions. While not all situations can be predicted, there are some that just come in the course of time. Like age limits for things such as vaccinations, how to raise your children, or even less important things like- ear piercings. I know how stressful it can be to try and have to make important decisions alone. My husband would not be present at her birth, so before he left we talked about how he wanted her to be treated. Do we want her fully vaccinated? How did he feel about formula use? What were his opinions on events happening in an emergency?

As for after she was born: how do you want our sleeping arrangements be? He may not be here now but eventually we will all be a family living in one house again and so while it may not affect him in the moment, it will in the future if she is in our bed and he comes home and she struggles to adjust to a crib. How does he want to be involved in her doctors appointments? If your kids are older discussing things like schooling is important. How do you want family to be involved?

Involving your partner will make you feel less alone and more like you are in the partnership you probably envisioned for your parenting.

~ Know when you are at the end of your rope.

Knowing when you are so exhausted, or so stressed is important because we all need to know when to step back and ask for help! Asking for help can be so hard. We want to give the impression that we can do it all, because we don’t want to feel inferior to all those who appear to have it all together. I will tell you a secret that everyone knows but nobody believes. Not a single one of us can do it all 100% of the time! Everyone needs help and rest! If you take care of yourself before you reach the end of your rope, then you can keep going longer! When your spouse is home you may be able to get that break before you realize you are in desperate need of one. But when you are the sole parent in the house and nobody is coming home to relieve you it can sneak up on you. So take note of your mental, emotional, and physical state when that happens so you can begin to notice it the next time. And then when you’re there reach out! And remember it takes a village.

~ Take care of yourself with lots and lots of self-care.

Self-care is so important that I have written about it so many times:

If you practice self care regularly it will take you much much longer to reach the end of your rope. This means asking for help so you can get a break to practice good self-care. It is even more important when you are the sole caregiver for your little ones with out any in home reinforcements.

 

 

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

Valentine’s From a World Away

Valentine's day is a fun one for my hubby and I. We keep it simple full of yummy home cooked food, chocolates and cheesey-ness! And I love it so I had to make sure his care package reflected the same!

Valentine’s Day: The Day of Love! Hearts everywhere, Chocolate, Flowers! Red Pink and Sparkles.

Valentine’s day is tomorrow and the stores have been stocked for weeks (luckily enough for me since it takes a while for boxes to reach our troops over seas).

See I know I am not the only one spending Valentine’s day home alone with my little love bug. Hoping that he gets off in time for a few minutes of FaceTime chatting before baby and I go to bed.

But whether you are with your true love in person, or hoping for a phone call there are still some great ways to spend Valentine’s Day.

For me the first thing I thought to do was celebrate with a Care Package for the Mister. For us Valentine’s day is normally full of fun and cheesey dates. We normally do dinner at home. And it always involves chocolates! So that is what his care package is full of- Chocolates & cheesiness.

  • Lots and Lots of his favorite chocolates! He loves the really really dark chocolates so I wrapped them all up into different bags. That way he will have some things to open up!
  • Another thing we always do is watch movies! So I got him a new movie to watch! The perfect combination of Action & Humor- The Kingsman 2
  • A hand rolling massager- He has always wanted one for after ju jitsu.
  • Super soft sweater to keep him warm! I’ve heard its super cold there in Korea right now!
  • Cards from me and the baby (signed with her foot prints)
  • And lots and lots of photos!

Now making care packages cute and cheesey is not easy with a lack of craft stores in Hawaii & lack of time with a newborn. But thanks to Rachel over at Countdown and Cupcakes she has curated decorations for boxes! So I got her Valentine’s day one and I am so excited to be able to send him a decorated box!

But just because he is the one getting the care packaged doesn’t mean the sender shouldn’t have any fun! One of my favorite February traditions that I got to be involved in during my time in Grad school was Galentine’s Day! Celebrating a fun night with your girl friends always makes for a fun night! Chick-flicks, sweet wine, chocolate and an easy dinner- nothing could be better!

So whether you are celebrating together or apart this year make sure you have a little fun along the way!

Valentine's day is a fun one for my hubby and I. We keep it simple full of yummy home cooked food, chocolates and cheesey-ness! And I love it so I had to make sure his care package reflected the same!

If There Was an App to Find Friends at New Duty Stations

Moving duty stations can be hard, especially when it comes to finding friends. What would your profile say if there was a "dating" app for new friends?

If there was a “Dating” app for finding new friends at each new Duty Station my Profile might read something like this:

Hi my name is Grace and I am seeking new friends! I moved here a few weeks ago, and now that I am settled into my house I have to get out or I will go stir crazy!

I have a sweet puppy who loves to play with all dogs! So, I am always down for trips to the dog park or taking a walk. She has never met a dog she doesn’t like.

I love Starbucks, ice cream, or lunch dates!

I am about to be a new mom, so I am looking for little baby friends for our soon to be arriving little girl!

In my free time I love to lounge in my yoga pants and watch Gilmore Girls, Friends, and just about any Romantic Comedy you could name while I browse through Pinterest!

If I sound like someone you would want to hang out with let me know!

                            

Look familiar?

Post like these are plastered all across different MilSpouse Facebook groups at different duty stations! Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there was a built-in way to make new friends at each new duty station? And the thing is, is we can. But it requires us leaving our couches and not hiding behind the phone. And that is vulnerable and scary. Having an App gives us a feeling of safety because we can avoid that initial social contact. It removes the fear of rejection because we won’t be rejected to our faces!

But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones and show up somewhere in person.

So here some tips for getting out of your comfort zone and finding some friends in person, until someone really does create that friends dating app!

 

If you wanna see my tips for getting out of your comfort zone and finding friends at your new duty station, check out my full post at Army Wife Network

Coming into military life I have always had built in friends from school such as classmates and roommates. But military life was a whole new ball game. I quickly realized that if I didn’t make the effort to put myself out there I wouldn’t make many friends. And as an extroverted person I need those friendships!

How do you make new friends at each new duty station?

Moving duty stations can be hard, especially when it comes to finding friends. What would your profile say if there was a "dating" app for new friends?