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.


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.