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Softball and Ms Anxiety

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#1 Sancti-claws

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:24 AM

Background is Ms 10 is having anxiety steer her ship more and more and it is, quite frankly, doing my head in.

Last year, a friend from her old school and she went along to a come & try day for softball, and both enjoyed it so were signed up.

Her older sister played softball.  I played softball.  Her dad played baseball.  She has played softball in the back yard forever.

Training is on a Tuesday afternoon.  Her coach is the PE teacher from her old school (and was her sister's PE teacher years ago and has a lot of experience coaching all levels) and is wonderful with the kids.  Her dad takes her to training and it is a battle that is generally a win by the end of the afternoon - but there are wobbles.

Games are on Saturday.  I take her to those, as he goes to church on Saturdays.  The refusal argument is beginning earlier and earlier on this one.

I know that when she actually gets out there and plays she enjoys herself, she loves the fact that she has overcome her anxiety and her team and the parents around are amazingly supportive.

She has NEVER finished anything because of her anxiety.

Dad enrolled her for Little Athletics when she was young, because she was so keen on the idea and quite sporty.  She lasted three training sessions, and the special coach they brought in for an all club training session yelled loudly and she melted down and to this day (many years later) will still vehemently shake when LA is mentioned.

She used to do swimming lessons - and was good, so put up into a new class on a Friday afternoon.  She was going well, but started resisting to the point of shaking and crying so we canned that.

She is excited for any sporting event - cross-country, swimming carnival, sports day - until the actual day which generally starts with meltdowns and complete refusal.

So anyway, we are half-way through the softball season.  The competition breaks over Christmas holidays.  She started the day (before any of us were even completely awake) with her "I hate softball.  It has ruined my life" spiel.

We have been trying to get her through the season just so she can have one win over herself chalked up.  It is so hard.  And yes, there is part of me that is a bit p*ssed off on behalf of her team because they have really lifted her through tough times to get to a good spot every week, and she cannot see any impact her behaviour has on others.

Please be gentle.  Its been rough.  What would YOU do?

#2 Riotproof

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:31 AM

That sounds so hard.

I would try to tune her out a bit, and just say that she has to finish the season because she’d be letting down her team. Then I’d try and do something fun/special after the games on Saturday.

It’s not the same, because I don’t think it’s anxiety as much as opportunity cost of time, but ds whinges every time about swimming lessons. I tell him he can whinge or not, but he’s still going.

#3 eachschoolholidays

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:31 AM

I would take her to see a psychologist who specialises in childhood anxiety. While it is counter- intuitive, my understanding is that avoiding things that make her anxious could be making it worse.  The psychologist will be able to give you both strategies to help her deal with her fears.

#4 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:33 AM

My DD is younger and doesn’t have anxiety (although yesterday’s issues seeing a doctor has me wondering), I went with a small reward after each session and a big reward to work towards at the end (this was for attending OT).

#5 Jersey Caramel

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:39 AM

That sounds really tough and frustrating. Is she getting any help/ treatment for her anxiety? Like a PP, it is my understanding that avoiding the things that make you anxious is the worst thing you can do for anxiety,  but you may need support in how to actually do this as it will probably feel mean and require 'tough love'. There are some great childhood anxiety programs that you may be able to complete online with her that will help her to learn healthier ways of thinking e.g. Cool Kids from Macquarie Uni (not 100% sure on this as I only know people who have completed it in person).

#6 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:46 AM

I have no answers but I just want to say I'm right there with you.

DD cannot stick with anything. Same age as your DD, actually. She has ASD/ADHD but flip, the anxiety totally rules our lives. She started both choir and dance team this year. When it all got too much and when actual performances started looking, she started refusing to go. It was incredibly frustrating. She's done it with a number of other activities too.

My approach this year is to not enroll her in anything. Just can't afford to pay $$$ for her to not follow through. I'm all for giving her experiences but this has gotten ridiculous.

I'm sorry, I'm sure that's not helpful but I just wanted to let you know that someone else gets it.

#7 barrington

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:54 AM

With my DD's anxiety about similar issues, it is all about control.  Obviously I make sure that we start getting ready way, way, way before we need to and then I try to get her to make the choice about the issues she is the most anxious about.  

She is a dancer and has a sensitive scalp and rarely brushes her hair.  But occasionally needs a high pony for performances.  So she chooses the hairbrush, she chooses whether her hair is wet or dry, she chooses the hairband etc.  We also prep the night before by washing her hair and getting most knots out and again, her choice as to whether or not we try to put it in a high pony the night before.  If we have to have a part in the hair, it is usually a half hour of making sure it is straight and 'exactly' in the middle.  Again, I get her to check the part at each stage, giving her as much control as I can to try to minimise her anxiety.

One other trick is to outsource.  For school performances, I get one of the teachers to do her hair.  They are not her 'safe space' and so they can just do it without all the anxiety tantrums that I get.  

How would your DD go if another parent came (early of course) to pick her up and just hustled her out the door?

#8 José

Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:54 AM

View Posteachschoolholidays, on 05 January 2020 - 07:31 AM, said:

I would take her to see a psychologist who specialises in childhood anxiety. While it is counter- intuitive, my understanding is that avoiding things that make her anxious could be making it worse.  The psychologist will be able to give you both strategies to help her deal with her fears.

the anxiety seems more than she can manage on her own- even with your help. So, I'd absolutely be seeing a psychologist.

The second part of the quoted post is also true. By allowing avoidance of that which triggers anxiety it causes the anxiety to persist. It reinforces the idea that avoidance is the best (perhaps only) strategy. Having said that we generally don't just expose people to their fears unsupported.  That's where the psychologist comes in.

In the meantime some useful resources might be, website anxiety Canada. And the book 'helping my anxious child.

#9 Bigbaubles

Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:04 AM

I'd be looking at more help for her, but i'd also be making her continue the season with softball. If she manages to finish the season, it may give her a really great boost in confidence.

#10 BadCat

Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:14 AM

What I will say is that your post sounds angry.  Please try not to be angry at your child over their anxiety.  I know that's not easy.  I really know.  But it does not help.  And the anxiety is not their fault.

Please get them to a psychologist for some help.  Headspace is great with kids.

#11 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:33 AM

I realise I'm probably in the angry category too... I just don't have anything left in the tank. I've been so patient for years now (her issues kicked off around 6) and I have nothing left. Which is awful because this little person depends on me and will for many years to come, and I have a responsibility to be her safe person. But I'm burnt out. 2020 is going to be a "rest" year. I also have to focus my energy on fighting the NDIS for her this year.

Perhaps OP and I are angry. It's really hard to be measured and patient and loving and kind 100% of the time when your life revolves around someone else so heavily. Honestly, my DH and my other DD (who also has significant developmental issues) don't even get a look in - it's awful trying to cater to everyone's emotional needs when one person needs so much.

But definitely worth reflecting on that anger and resentment and seeing if I can channel it into a more positive emotion.

Parenting, hey? No one warns you...

#12 BadCat

Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:43 AM

I hear you about the anger.  Honestly, I HAVE been there. A lot.  I still catch myself going there sometimes and my kids are almost 19 and 21.

My post wasn't intended criticism, just a reminder.

And it's important to take care of yourself too.

#13 SFmummyto3

Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:45 AM

I have a teenage dd with high anxiety and was similar to your dd at that age. As others have mentioned, taking her to a psychologist for strategies to help her was needed and was successful, and enabled her to still feel the anxiety but continue on with an activity and not just saying 'no' to avoid going.

Is your dd's friend still signing up for the new season? That might be helpful if she has someone to meet up with. Again my dd still today prefers someone else to try things with and is much more motivated. She has learned that that isn't always an option and can now go somewhere on her own but that anxiety is still there a bit.

Maybe try breaking the season down into smaller bits might be less overwhelming. So say to her to try going to one training session and see how you go? then if she has a good time, talk to her afterwards, acknowledge her anxiety, and also have her realise the good things she gains from it. I've had a little success with this method as trying something for one time kind of gives them 'an out' if need be, but mostly the result is that she actually continues going as she's enjoyed herself (I just don't mention this part and she ends up deciding to stay herself).

Edited by SFmummyto3, 05 January 2020 - 08:46 AM.

#14 Sancti-claws

Posted 05 January 2020 - 09:20 AM

View Posteachschoolholidays, on 05 January 2020 - 07:31 AM, said:

I would take her to see a psychologist who specialises in childhood anxiety. While it is counter- intuitive, my understanding is that avoiding things that make her anxious could be making it worse.  The psychologist will be able to give you both strategies to help her deal with her fears.
Thank you (to all of you)

We are seeing a psychologist - our third professional to try and help us deal.

We went to an OT when she was in Prep to help her, and there were techniques that worked there - but its obviously a problem that doesn't go away, just morphs to the new occasions.

We went to another psych last year, who was big on "filling her cup of security" and very short on actual techniques to help when she was in the throes of anxiety getting its tentacles in.

This one - the jury is still out.  We have had 3 sessions, and so far she is still on "colour your emotions" which DD smiles and nods and does nothing towards addressing the issues yet.  The homework is just another thing to meltdown over, quite frankly.

Am I angry?  Probably too much.  I know that she can't control it and I know that it is her anxiety talking (I will check out the recommended book "Helping your Anxious Child" - I did go through "Calming your Anxious Child" and that was good, but I really wish I could find a professional to work with who had such therapy to back me up, rather than it being another thing that she manipulates to getting what she wants)

So yes, trying very hard to be the better person, but it is 4 weeks until I have to have the battle again and she is already building her strategy.

And yes, I am very much trying to get through to the end of the season with her because I think that that win will be worth it...

#15 MayaTheGrinch

Posted 05 January 2020 - 09:33 AM

In your position I’d “try” to push them through it. This is because I know with my anxious child avoiding it makes everything worse. Avoidance can tend to make things “bigger” then they are anxiety wise. I won’t say it’s been easy but in the end it’s worked. Of course then something else comes up that he wants to avoid because it’s trigger anxious emotions.

And as a PP said often anxiety is about control. My child feels the need to control his environment and if something is too unpredictable it causes an anxious feeling and then he wants to avoid which makes it scarier which means he wants to avoid it even more and it just spirals even higher. Honestly we see a psych regularly but medication was key to letting those strategies the psych works on with him to actually work. We did find working collaboratively helped somewhat. And sitting down and talking about it. But something you are just so spent and frustrated and exhausted from it seemingly never ending that it’s hard to do that.

#16 Runnercoz

Posted 05 January 2020 - 09:46 AM

Have you worked out what specifically is causing the anxiety? My 8 year old is very much like this. For him it is the social aspect and potentially making a mistake in front of others that he has. He is a perfectionist and feels like he should be able to do something perfect the first time he tries it. I think intellectually he gets that that is not realistic and that his peers also make mistakes but the anxiety magnifies everything he does in his mind until it seems insurmountable. An example is moving up in swimming lessons to a new class with a new teacher and new kids. Once he has done it a few times he is fine but it is hell until then. My feeling is that he feels much more in control once he gets to know the kids a bit and understands how they will react to what he does (words, actions).

We have stuck to sports that are more individual focussed but have a social element because of this. He would not cope with team sports where there is reliance on his performance and with that possible judgement as to whether he has let the team down/should have done something better.

Apologies for the essay!

#17 Sancti-claws

Posted 05 January 2020 - 10:06 AM

Thank you Runnercoz - the ever helpful answer to specifics is "because I hate it" but a lot of your perfectionist example is the real reason.

We will push through - because we have learned that avoidance just leads to anxiety getting its grips a little bit more firmly on the control panel.

#18 chookas!

Posted 05 January 2020 - 10:47 AM

It doesn’t sound like you’re seeing the right psychs unfortunately. If you can, try and find the cool kids program or the cool little kids program. It use to be run by Macquarie uni. It’s basically CBT but the idea is to create little bits of anxiety and then reward them for getting through it. Google CBT step ladder, it certainly helped with my son.
Good luck!

#19 Jersey Caramel

Posted 05 January 2020 - 10:56 AM

Hi again OP, I went and looked up Cool Kids and it is available online - it's not cheap though.  You do get phone consultations with a psych though, and I know that my friends who have done the in person program say they are fantastic.  They are SO experienced with anxiety and very practical in the techniques they teach.  


My friend's child did end up needing to go on medication a couple of years down the track... and this has been the thing that has made the most difference. He is only on a small dose but it is enough to take the edge off and be able to apply all the other techniques they have learnt. I think his mum regrets not trying them earlier. She was worried about the potential side effects... but of course unmanaged anxiety has a lot of side effects too, including lots of missed school and activities.  So I wouldn't hesitate to see a pediatrician if you are not having much luck with psychologists alone.

#20 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 05 January 2020 - 11:17 AM

Her anxiety is causing her to avoid things she enjoys, and has not responded to psychological therapy. How do you feel about a trial of medication? I imagine if you saw a paediatrician they would suggest anti-anxiety medication. We have been there and it made a huge difference. The dose is small and well tolerated. The medication is inexpensive. I am so glad we tried it.

Untreated anxiety is horrible to live with.

#21 Sancti-claws

Posted 05 January 2020 - 11:46 AM

We don't have many local options - will have a look at the online programs.  Thank you for the link,

I am not totally averse to medication - husband may be harder to persuade although after the last year, even he may be willing to come on board there.

#22 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 05 January 2020 - 12:01 PM

Our paediatrician made it very clear that medication was an option that could help, but it was entirely up to our child and us if we wanted to try it. He didn't pressure us at all. The medication they tend to use first is fluoxetine, an SSRI.

#23 lizzzard

Posted 05 January 2020 - 12:27 PM

Some sobering responses in here that hit close to home.

DS11 is in a very similar boat to your DD OP.... we had to stop sport for a while because the anxiety issues surrounding it were causing him so much distress it just wasn’t worth it. We’ve gone back this year (interestingly to baseball). He’s coping a bit better for various reasons including a truly amazing classroom teacher and school support team this year...  so basically his anxiety is being managed better / he has more coping skills and this is helping in situations that have triggered his anxiety in the past.

The only more specific thing I would say is that I’ve noticed we need to be careful about what emotions / attitudes we bring to the situation. You mention that softball has some family significance... is it possible this is adding to anxiety surrounding her participation? This is something I’ve had to really coach DH on - he has a lot of interest and history of playing certain sports, so it’s extremely difficult for him to focus on the pure fun side of playing rather than skill development and competition, especially because DS is naturally athletic and usually the best player on the team. He doesn’t mean to, but he exacerbates DS’s anxiety by saying  things that wouldn’t be an issue for other kids, but add expectation and pressure that DS just can’t handle. Unfortunately we have to accept that matter how talented DS is, it’s extremely unlikely he will ever participate at a high level due to his anxiety.

ETA: just read the comments about being angry above.... Gosh.... I can soooooo relate..... I get quite upset thinking about it. I don't know if this is at all relevant but there have definitely been points in the past when both DH and I have been going through anxious periods ourselves, and this made us more likely to respond in anger to DS and it definitely worsened his anxiety to a significant degree. One thing we've learned to do between the two of is step back and 'hand off' management of DS to the  emotionally stronger parent at that particular time. Honestly, I've even 'handed over' situations to DD13 (or rather she has stepped in) once or twice when necessary. Don't feel like you always have to be the one to manage everything OP.

Edited by lizzzard, 05 January 2020 - 12:54 PM.

#24 SM3s Fight Song

Posted 05 January 2020 - 01:20 PM

I was going to say cool kids is supposed to be very good. hugs and sympathy, I know how hard it is.  

I've been through this with school so much this year.  DD knows school is non negotiable, so ultimately I make her go.  Which is horrible, its the catch of anxiety, that avoidance doesn't help but too much exposure isn't helpful either.  It's hard to find a balance. Once we get to school DD clams up, but the sobbing and meltdowns to get there mean I often end up completely exhausted by the end of the morning school run, special/dress up days are even worse.

DD is nearly 7.  I spoke to my trusted gp about it, as its really impacting her life, and we have fire anxiety now since school had a fire drill in term 4 and with all the smoke.  It is so hard.  The gp said its really hard to find a psychologist that's good with this age group and surprisingly recommended trialing medication first. She said most psychologist aren't used to working with kids this young and you really need someone who specialises in it.

The medication is also because she gets migraines and Amitriptyline is used to treat both.  Our GP and the pharmacist I spoke to both recommended that for her combination of migraines and anxiety, as something that's used a lot at this age (also used for bedwetting) and considered very safe (their words) .  I never thought I'd be considering antidepressant medication for my child at this age. She hasn't been on it long enough to know if it's helping, but being in this situation seeing her suffering physically from the headaches and mentally with her anxiety has made me reconsider a lot of things. I don't know how on board DH would have been with medication for anxiety, it helped that she gets migraines too, so it was more the medication was for that. I think if it's impacting her life that much it's something to consider, often therapy works best in combination with medication.

Edited by SM3s Fight Song, 05 January 2020 - 01:42 PM.

#25 Sancti-claws

Posted 05 January 2020 - 01:37 PM

View PostSM3s Fight Song, on 05 January 2020 - 01:20 PM, said:

special/dress up days are even worse.
Oh lord yes!

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