What Do You Do When Your Eight-Year-Old Needs a Xanax?

Tue, May 13, 2008



My PunditGirl has worries in her little eight-year-old head, and I don’t know how to help. Not your run-of-the-mill second-grade traumas of love/hate relationships with the boys who chase girls on the playground or not getting the latest Hannah Montana CD. She manages those like a champ.

She’s struggling with more grown-up problems, ones that those of us who claim to be adults have a rough time managing.

We play games. We try to talk about them. I invented the ‘worry-nator’ last night to suck the troubling thoughts out of her head before bedtime. But nothing is working. She clings to her tsuris like a chimp on a vine.

After a couple of tragedies in our family in recent months (which I won’t go into for a lot of different reasons), suffice it to say that PunditGirl is learning about loss and the fragility of life.

It’s not going so well.

Mix in the looming end of the school year, separation from a teacher she equates with Roald Dahl’s fantastically beatific Miss Honey, stir in the departure last year of one of her best friends from school and add another one in the wings, and you’ve got a girl who is having a hard time containing the crazy, worry thoughts in her head about permanency.

Which is not good, since she still wonders about and can’t understand why her China Mom (and Dad) didn’t keep her.

We’ve worked really hard to patch the emotional hole in her heart – the one where we pour in the love and attention and assurances that we won’t leave her, but it drips out, leaving her empty and troubled again.

The point of all this? I guess there isn’t a point other than the fact that I’m fumbling to come up with a way to re-route the well-worn paths of concern in her brain and make the worries stop, at least the ones that make her believe that she’s not worthy of love.

I know a Xanax is out of the question, but how do I give her brain some quiet moments to recharge and let a little forever love seep in?

Photo by PunditMom

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15 Responses to “What Do You Do When Your Eight-Year-Old Needs a Xanax?”

  1. impromptublogger Says:

    Hugs to Rachel. My dd had a rough year in 4th grade – her best friend from preschool suddenly decided she’d rather hang out with another girl. And her so-called best friend at school turned out to be a liar and not very nice much of the time. Luckily she did have Girl Scouts to fall back on which helped her a lot.

    But there was a happy ending. By the beginning of 5th she had developed some other friends and they are still her friends now, and she gained even more this year. And I’m happy to say they’re ALL nice girls.

    It will get better for Rachel -she just has some things to work out in her head. My dd at age 12 still occasionally likes to sleep with us (especially if she’s sick) and I think it’s perfectly okay.

  2. Lisa Says:

    As the mother of a second-grade boy, I feel your pain! I find myself reciting the Serenity Prayer, a lot!

    The only thought I can pass on to you that seems to help in our house is to keep the dialogue going. Don’t stop talking, sharing. Keep hugging, supporting, loving.

    Maybe with summer break coming, you and she can rest and recharge. Maybe time away from school will help.

  3. Lumpyheadsmom Says:

    She may feel separation anxiety more acutely than other children her age, but PunditGirl will learn to deal with it in her own way, and will be the woman she becomes because of it. You provide the permanence in her life – her mother, who loves her unconditionally – and that is what you can do to help her.

    Her China Mom and Dad couldn’t keep her because she was meant to be your daughter. If she doesn’t already know that, she will some day soon.

  4. Andrea Says:

    I don’t know for sure what to tell you. I do know that talking is important and that you’re keeping dialogue going is vital. But it’s also in your actions. That you’re there for her continually will help her realize she does have stability in her life.

  5. Jessica Says:

    I don’t know the answer, but I can see know that PunditGirl has an incredibly loving and sensitive mom that will help her and love her.

  6. Amy in Ohio Says:

    Man, this makes my heart hurt for her. And you. Just thank God that she has a family like yours to hold her hand through all this stuff.

    Sending good thoughts your way!

  7. Daisy Says:

    Our children — so precious, so complex. She’s too young (or maybe not!) to understand the full complexity of birth parents who chose not to raise their child. Hugs to both of you — dealing with these issues openly is so much better than hiding them away.

  8. anniegirl1138 Says:

    I have a worrier too. 5 and 1/2yr old. Her father died when she was 3 1/2 and we have had other upheavals big and small and even wonderful since then but it’s asking a lot of a wee one to wrap her mind around things that are big and grown-up.

    All you can do is listen. Answer what questions you can. Give reassurance when necessary. And seek professional advice when all else fails.

    We found a grief group for children, consulted with a counselor for ourselves and the rest is just that run of mill parenting thing.

    When I was about 9 there were big upheavals in my family which made me question a lot about myself and the fact that my own birth parents had put me up for adoption. I think perhaps we all go through this to smaller or larger extents. I am sure you are doing better than you think with helping your daughter through this.

  9. Chicky Chicky Baby Says:

    This just about broke my heart. As a worrier from a very young age, I love your worry zapper idea. It’s great that you recognize and are willing to help your daughter through this.

  10. Vivian M Says:

    This post hit home.
    I wish there was a magic wand, or an easy way, but I think all we can do is be there for them, day in and day out. Until they finally feel comfortable and trust enough. Until their worries start to minimize and take a backseat to all the love, happiness and joy. Until their hearts heal and they become the strong women that they are destined to be, because of their life experiences and the support of their loved ones.
    Until then, hug her tightly, hold her close, and talk to her often. And save the Xanax for yourself, just in case! (just kidding).

  11. Robin Says:

    Keep doing what you’re doing. I’ve also got a great book I”ll email you with off line.

  12. Jaelithe Says:

    Oh, poor sweetie. I was such an anxious kid myself. I can really sympathize with her worries about school, friends, etc.

    At least she has a great family to support her through everything.

  13. Nancy Says:

    I’m so late coming over, and I apologize.

    I was a sensitive girl like PunditGirl. It was hard to be a natural worrier when some of my friends were carefree and couldn’t relate. But what’s great is I was able to dredge up some amazing strength within myself. She will get there too.

    And in the meantime, she has an amazing and loving mom (and dad) to lean on.

    xoxoxo to you and PunditGirl.

    p.s., aptly, my word verification for this post is “strss.”

  14. Mike Mansfield Says:

    The first thing I thought while reading this article is "Nothing IS permanent." Parents die. Siblings get old and disabled. Children do drugs and get in trouble. Our favorite restaurant closes, etc.

    You are permanent in her life, however. My parents died in 1991 & 1993. I had enough time with them that I still have a permanent tie with them. I have nieces and nephews who were less than 5 when their grandmother/my mother died who still seem to keep her alive as well.

    So just keep on loving PunditGirl, as you are, and try to guide her while letting her know that some of those friends were just stupid.

  15. Nanci Says:

    I just recently discovered your wonderful site, and this post hits home. We have two wonderful children who were both born in China and joined our family through adoption. DD is 6, and a real worrier. She worries about pirates coming over from Africa and killing her. She worries about how bones get out of dead bodies. She worries that we may be fictional characters in someone’s book, and we just don’t know it. She worries about whether she will be a good driver. And I mean worries herself to tears. One night she told me that she didn’t want to live, because it meant having to die. I suspect that many of the topics are just window dressing for underlying adoption-related fears, and I try to emphasize that we (her parents) will protect her from pirates, be happy to be characters in a book with her, and will teach her how to be a great driver. We talk about how I can still feel my mom’s love for me, 10 years after she died. Bodies die, a parent’s love doesn’t. At night, after she is finally asleep, I go into her room and whisper that I will love her forever. I hope some of that message seeps into her dreams and makes them sweeter. Our DS (3) never worries. If something bad happens, he moves on and finds something else to smile about. We joke that when he learns about death, he will say “We die? Bummer. Can I go out and play now?” In some ways, it makes it much harder to see if there is an attachment/grieving issue that needs attention – he is just so darned happy.

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