January 13, 2009,
S.C. asks from Casselberry, FL on January 10, 2009
Help with Anxiety in 11 Year Old
My 11 year old daughter is seemingly well adjusted, does well in school and has many friends. She started 6th grade with expected worries about starting a new school but adjusted better than we expected. She has had ongoing difficulty sleeping all night in her room for many years. She is currently getting up most nights, getting in our bed or I return her to her room and wait until she falls asleep. She says she wants to be close to Mom and Dad (we had hoped that having the dog sleep with her would help, but it hasn't). We took her to a psychologist a few years ago (because of the sleeping issues & concerns for anxiety) and she didn't think it was an anxiety disorder. Lately she has shared information about things she is learning at school (about resisting gangs & drugs and learning about King Tut who was killed by a blow to the head) in a factual manner , but at bedtime she recalls these "bad thoughts" & gets very upset....almost hysterical & sobbing. She doesn't seem to be able to calm herself down but will be ok with my presence and talk about positive thoughts, being greatful, etc. I think of her as a sensitive child but she is gradually becomming more independent with daily routines and getting homework started on her own so I have tried to focus on these positives and hope that the anxiety will decrease as she matures. If we try to talk to her about her feelings at a time when she is calm, she will say she doesn't know why she gets so upset, she won't want to talk about it or just bringing it up will get her upset. I don't want to make a big deal out of something that isn't but I don't want to overlook anything either. Any suggestions or personal experience would be appreciated.
So What Happened?™
Thanks to all of you! I appreciated hearing about your experiences and suggestions. I am fortunate to have a daughter who feels comfortable talking about her feelings to me. She does have some journal books and I noticed that she has labeled them for different topics (friend, immediate family, songs, writing ideas). I have encouraged her to use them to write about things that are on her mind when she doesn't want to talk about them and she liked the idea. With our busy lives, I am focusing on being fully present to really give her my undivided attention when she does want to talk...especially in the afternoons rather than just at bedtime when talking about topics that are upsetting make it hard to relax. She is actually sleeping better (so I am too!) and only got up once this week. I did talk to her about seeing a therapist and she replied that she would feel more comfortable talking to me or Dad than a "stranger". We encourage her to focus on her breathing and use positive visualization when she is anxious. She is straddling that line between childhood and adolescence and isn't ready to leave childhood behind. Hopefully we will keep the lines of communication open as she matures. Thanks again for your support!
T.F. answers from Orlando on January 10, 2009
Wow- I'm sorry I don't have advice for you, but I do want to tell you it's normal what's going on inside her head. Her brain at her age is really starting to understand both "concrete" and "abstract" concepts. I'm thinking maybe just talking to her about what exactly it is that worries her at night when she's alone with her thoughts might help. For example, is she just grossed out by how King Tut was killed, or is she afraid it will happen to her? When she thinks about gangs, what is it that bothers her-- that they exsist and may harm her, or that she will have to face resisting them? Even if she cries during your discussion, try to get to the bottom of what she is really scared of and help her find ways to get through it. For example, make it her job to make sure the front door is locked at night and show her the locks on her bedroom windows. What is her relationship like with her step siblings? Is there a female one she may be willing to open up to?
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H.S. answers from Orlando on January 11, 2009
Have you considered giving her melationin and L- Theanine for relaxing her brain to help her sleep. These are natural and my stepson has been taking them and also my husband.
1 mom found this helpful
K.C. answers from Miami on January 11, 2009
Wow ur daughter sounds like me when I was her age. I am now 37 but as a child delt with alot of anxiety and fear. I did not grow up with religion in my family and I tink not having a belief in a power greater then myself made me constantly fear that simething terrible could happen at any moment.The fearful mind can b obsessive I use to think ok if I run thru all worst case sinerio in my mind I will b prepared in case it happens. My advise is to let her know even when ur not there she is safe that there is a power greater then herself running the universe.and when she feels those negative thoughts creeping in to stop and ask/pray for strenght or guidance etc. I takes time to reprogram an excessively fearful mind but replacing anxiety with positive affrimations can help.Let her know her mind has the power to open doors of fear or positivity. when she cant sleep have her breathin thru her nose and exhale out her mouth the word PEACE over and over
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F.R. answers from Pensacola on January 11, 2009
I'm sorry for her anxiety. It's hard to deal with things as a young person. They just don't know enough yet and aren't equipped with the tools to work through it fully.
Try getting her a journal and having her write her thoughts when she starts to get upset. And if she's comfortable discussing those with you. You may be able to get more insight into what's going on that way. But if she wants no one to look at what she's written, try to respect her wishes. That would take a lot of strength on your part. I'm not sure I could not peek to try and see what's really there to attempt to help.
Good luck! I'm not real sure what else to suggest with this one, but I hope it gets better.
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V.A. answers from Tallahassee on January 11, 2009
I went through a lot of the things that your daughter is going through and even up into highschool and college. When I was 21, I finally found peace and comfort in Jesus Christ and knowing that God loves us so much and will always be with us and that we are NEVER alone. He will always be with you. In the bible, in the book of Mathew chapter 28 verse 20 Jesus says, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world".
There is nothing too big for God to handle. My advice for you and your daughter and the rest of your family is to truly seek Jesus. Pray earnestly and sincerely for comfort and guidance for your daughter. It is such a wonderful feeling to give all your pain and problems and pressures to God, to have it lifted off your shoulders, and He will truly help you, if you ask.
Here are a few more bible verses to help you get started,
1. When you need security, read Psalms chapter 61
2. When you need strength and faith read Psalms 18 and 27
3. When you want to walk with God read Psalms chapter 1
They are short and really motivate and help you to remember Who is in control in this world and we have nothing to fear or worry. Also, read Mathew chapter 5 where Jesus is talking to the multitudes and says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." These are real comforting verses, and I pray that you and your daughter and the rest of your family will find peace in this and will ease her anxiety. This is a scary world, and the only light that we have is through God.
Take care and feel free to write me if you want to talk. May the Lord be with you and your family.
S.D. answers from Miami on January 11, 2009
My daughter is 14 and sometimes gets a little anxious at night. Have her sit in a warm bath or shower sit with her if you have to. Check with her doctor but either a benydryl, advil pm or just a regular tylnol may calm her system down.
M.H. answers from Fort Walton Beach on January 11, 2009
I remember feeling like that at that age. My hormones were beginning to kick in and I was also on a steroid medication that made my hormones race. I remember crying out that I didn't understand why I was so unsettled. Looking back, I know now. Diet, specifically balanced nutrition, can help in that area. A good absorbable multivitamin, few sweets, no sodas,and also exercise. This and sunshine are not as common today as once was but still much needed.
I think as she matures a lot of these feelings will subside but I think you can become proactive to speed it up for her.
S.K. answers from Boca Raton on January 12, 2009
I can relate to you and want to do what I can to help. I am an "anxiety/panic" survivor. What I mean by this is that I have found the cause to the issue and have been able to transform my life through different techniques. I am passionate about helping others, especially kids. I have so much to share and I am open to talking if you want. To help you right now, I would recommend a few things: when you discuss her anxiety with her try not to create any labels to attach to the problem. Do what you can to not tell her what the problem is. She has created a stories in her mind that have kept her connected to a specific pain. People, when they become fearful, focus on what they can do to avoid the fear. What they are really doing is creating a physical state that keeps them where they don't want to be. I would suggest that when you are in conversation with her, to ask her what certain things mean to her. There is no right or wrong answer here, because this is her story choice. Try not to solve her anxiety problem, only help her to see the stories she has created around the issues that stress her. Offer different ways to look at things and help her create a new physical choice that gives her power. Like I said there is so much, and my view is whatever we can do as women and as parents to keep our loved ones off the medication roller coaster, the better of our lives will be. If you want more advice and insight please don't hesitate to email me. This is my mission and I am open to you.
M.R. answers from Pensacola on January 11, 2009
I think you should take your daughter to the doctor and have her checked out for medical reasons that might cause the anxiety (hormones mentioned earlier), but I would also look at talking to a counselor again. I teach middle school and I don't recall ever hearing of a child your daughter's age who gets that anxious at bedtime that she gets hysterical and can't sleep through the night alone. I don't mean to worry you, but it sounds like from your post you already know that you need to be worried. Yes, teenagers are sensitive and are experiencing new things but this sounds like for your daughter she may need some extra help to handle it. You know your daughter better than anyone else, think about your other children, if they weren't living with you at that age, ask your husband if they had the same issues. If they did, and outgrew it then she will probably do the same. Otherwise, I would try again with a different counselor/therapist and see what they have to say.
S.S. answers from Tallahassee on January 12, 2009
I also have an 11 year old daughter...she is very sensitive. Sometimes just watching the news can upset her and get her worrying. we started a journal....she can write in it each night(or whenever) and then leave it in my room for me to read. This way she can express herself without having to be right in front of anyone. She can write down if something is worrying her, making her mad, if I've done something she didn't like, etc.
Hope that helps.
M.F. answers from Tallahassee on January 12, 2009
Hi S. - I just want to let you know that I feel like my daughter will be doing this in the next 12 months also. My oldest is 11 and heading to middle school next year, she is real small compared to other kids her age, I tell her that God made you right the way you are on purpose. She hates being the only blond in the family, she nagged me to dye her hair brown a few years back.
I know this is not the "exact" same thing as your daughter is experiencing but the nervousness and hormones and worrying all remind me of my daughter too.
I am worried about my daughter being bullied at Middle School, I don't think her sensitive nature will handle it well at all.
I sincerely hope that this issue goes away soon for your daughter and you.
S.M. answers from Miami on January 13, 2009
Hi, S.. Well, kids today do have a much different world to cope with than you and I did growing up. They lose their sheltered innocence at a younger age because the violence that you and I could put at a distance (the Vietnam War, for example), is happenning in their school. Even if we turn off the TV, there are WAY more pressures in school than most of us mature adults had to deal with when we were kids.
So it's understandable if our kids seem to be more afraid and react more strongly than we are used to seeing.
I don't know what your family's spiritual beliefs are, but if you folks do believe in God, I would start emphasizing His love, His protection, His power, as antidotes for your daughter's fear (and yours, too). In my life, God's presence and protection are the only things that help my own anxiety.
The reality is that we parents cannot shield our kids from every bad thing in the world, and the kids know it. What they need to know, I think, is that there is someone who can be with them every second of the day and night, helping them through every hard situation. God won't take away all the difficulties, but He has promise to be there, guiding and making our paths straight. To me, this gives me the courage to get out of bed in the morning and walk through my life at all. It also gives me the peace to lie down at night and sleep. I have very few nightmares, even though I have been through lots of trauma, and my life is fairly difficult.
It is also quite expected for children to experience anxiety that they can't define when they change schools, approach puberty, and so on. At age 11, her body is about to go through changes, if they haven't started already. That can do a real number on a child's head and heart even if that child is happy about entering puberty.
Dreams are the mind's way of trying to make sense out of what's happenning, and most of what goes on in dreams is symbolic and can be important in helping a child to deal with fears. See if you can get your daughter to talk to you about what happens in her dreams. She may be old enough to start a dream journal; that may be one way for her to take on a sense of power in this area instead of being a victim of scary dreams.
I do hope my input is helpful to you, and I will pray for your daughter's fears to subside. Take a look at your own fears, too, which you may accidentally be passing on to her (I'm not judging you; we all do this).
God bless you with peace,
S.W. answers from Miami on January 11, 2009
Tough age. Please ask your doctor to check hormones. This is the case entering puberty. I was very anxious and sensitive to my environment during this time, so were my sons.
An imbalance of hormones - also food allergies - and school environment - will exasperate the situation.
At least you are communicating with your daughter. It's ok to be human but unpleasant at times.