Children’s Mental Health Week is (4th-10th February 2019) and if I’m honest isn’t something I’ve ever really had much involvement with or really thought about. Even having a disabled son, it never crossed my mind how it might affect his mental health.
However, with recent press involving high profile cases of child suicide, even with children as young as eight or nine. It stuck with me. I have an 11-year-old girl, who thinks she’s going on 25 and for her young age, it surprised me how much she struggles with typical situations. Socially she is fine but throws something unfamiliar into the mix and her anxiety is off the charts. She was recently awarded (I say awarded, we felt she deserved some responsibility to manage her own money) a bank card, you know the 11-15 kind. Off she went to the shop and she was a complete bundle of nerves, calling me to ask if she was doing it right and what if it didn’t work!
It got me thinking about myself at 11. Was I that anxious? Did I expect constant reassurance from my Mum, probably! Have we raised a technological generation that knows more about getting followers on Instagram than feeling confident talking to adults or shopping for food?
I saw a young girl today, roughly 11 or 12. The moment her appointment was over, she pulled her phone out of her bag and was retouching her make-up. I don’t really do that now, besides when I was 11 (I’m not sure if just me). I do worry about my daughter, a school is a horrible place (been there got the t-shirt) and I’ve yet to meet anyone who had an ‘amazing’ school experience without something slightly negative. She already wants to have the right bag, pencil case, shoes, make-up and accessories. She tells me daily that she’s fat, ugly and boys tell her so (they will now, you wait until you are 16). I have reassured her with all the knowledge I have but I am scared that she will grow up into a very anxious and unsure adult.
I know I probably talked my Mum’s ears off about boys, being fat and ugly and everything in between that’s what teenagers do, but when do we worry that perhaps its more than just a passing comment. When I see her weigh herself every morning when she hides in her bedroom or worse still when I find her in the bath with slit wrists. I like to feel in touch with my daughter, she makes it difficult as she closes off when she feels uncomfortable or stressed. God, this parenting thing is causing me my own anxiety.
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