‘She’s gonna have to get over it!’ Then I thought to myself, ‘What about when I’m upset?’: Mom to daughter with anxiety urges ‘stop asking kids to act more maturely than we do’

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“’She’s gonna have to get over it!’ Do you know how many times I’ve heard this from people about my 2-year-old? Heck, I’ve definitely even said it in the stressful moments my child has struggled with big feelings over things us adults would consider small.

My daughter is incredibly intelligent, independent, and driven. When she puts her mind to something, she does it. However, since last March when her world shrank immensely, at arguably the most important time to learn social skills, she started having some anxiety in certain situations.

New people, changes in appearance of people she knows, loud sounds, surprises – these things all trigger her giant toddler emotions and feelings. Sometimes the feelings are so big mommy and daddy can feel them too, and it becomes overwhelming for all of us.

A few people on the outside of our family, meaning completely well, have said ‘Well she just has to get over it!’ It sounds reasonable, but then I think to myself…what about when I’m having anxiety? What about when I’m upset or fearful about something? How helpful is it when someone says to me, ‘You just have to get over it!’

Imagine, you begin having an anxiety attack, or are so afraid of something, and another person tells you to calm down and get over it. Rationally, as adults, we know that doesn’t help. It may just add to the stress or make us angry, even though we understand the other person is just trying to help.

Now imagine you’re 2. You have no idea how to regulate your emotions, you’ve only been on this planet for 30 months, and you’re still learning the ins and outs of this human stuff. You are startled by something you don’t understand, and instead of being offered comfort and patience you’re told to ‘get over it.’

We need to stop holding our children to a higher standard of emotional care and need than we hold ourselves to. We as adults still have huge problems navigating our emotions, yet we ask our children to stifle the feelings they don’t even have words for yet.

It takes a ton of patience, and a few deep breaths, but together our family has learned how to help her deal with these emotions. If we know she’s going to have to deal with something new, we talk about it first to better prepare her. If we’re blindsided, we help her first calm down with deep breathing.

Sometimes we even do a little affirmation meditation: we have her press her fingers together on her pressure points while reciting the words ‘peace begins with me’ until she relaxes and can speak without hyperventilating. Sometimes we just let her have a good cry.

Lately, if it’s a person she is fearful of, once we get her to breathe deeply, we have her ask them questions or tell them something, and once they begin to chat she realizes they aren’t so scary.

Our children are brand new on this planet and it’s our job to help them navigate it. It’s our role not only to keep them safe, but to help them feel safe. Let’s stop asking them to act more maturely than we act. Let’s allow them to have bad moods, be upset, have fears and work through them just like we allow ourselves.

So no, she does not have to ‘just get over it,’ and neither do we. Instead, let’s learn how to regulate our own feelings and emotions so we can guide our children through theirs.”

Mom snaps photo of her toddler crouching on the ground while experiencing anxiety
Courtesy of Rachael Krupski

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachael Krupski of Long Island, NY. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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