Can We Talk?

Our partners at Washburn Center for Children are here to give us an inside look on a child's perspective on uncertainty and to help us as parents feel equipped to guide our kids through their anxious feelings.

I need help. Can we talk?

So often as adults we read columns written by other adults; in this column, we flip the script and hear from a child’s perspective what it’s like to be anxious and live in uncertainty. We invite you to insert any child’s name into the byline as these reflections cross ages, cultures and experiences.

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Can We Talk? | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I like to have a plan and know the plan. It gives me comfort to know what’s coming. I spend a lot of time thinking and coming up with alternatives for what will happen next. Yep, I know that’s not realistic – especially because of COVID-19. No one knows anything about what’s next.

But here’s the deal: not knowing creates so much anxiety in me that my chest feels like it’s going to burst. For the first 10 years of my life, I often didn’t know what would happen next. I didn’t always feel safe. I didn’t know how to trust the adults in my life. What I didn’t know then is that fear turned into anxiety — which turned into frustration and anger.

Before I started going to Washburn Center to sort out all the tough thoughts and feelings bouncing around in my head, I just couldn’t use words to express what was going on.

When I said: Just let me take my blanket on the bus.

I meant: I’m afraid to leave home; it’s scary out there.

When I said: I need a snack I’m hungry even though I just had lunch.

I meant: Food is comforting for me, and I’m nervous if I wait there won’t be any there.

When I yelled and slammed the door.

I meant: I’m scared, and I don’t feel comfortable showing it. Anger’s the way it escapes.

If I had a chance to talk to all the grownups who could’ve helped me earlier, this is what I’d say:

  1. Listen to what’s underneath my words and actions. My auntie always said: don’t search in the branches for what’s only in the roots.
  2. Watch me. And I mean really watch, even if I don’t or can’t say the feeling. I’ll show it.
  3. I need help working through this. I need you to help me make that connection, even when it’s hard.

Help me find the support so I can get through this time and be stronger; I want to be prepared for anything.

Know a child or teen who is struggling with anxiety or behavioral concerns? Please let them know it is okay to reach out for help. We all need a little help in these tough times. Check out Washburn.org/LetsTalk: a space with hopeful, healing resources and information to help you and the kids in your life.

It’s okay to reach out. Help is here. 612-871-1454.

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