We are seated on the airplane about to take off when my son grips my hand, paralysed with fear, a face of sheer dread and asks: Is the plane going to crash? Is this normal? What is that noise?
Flying is my worst phobia, but as a parent you use everything you have to put your fears aside and help your child manage theirs.
I am a worrier, so my initial thought screams “I did this to him!” Then I start questioning whether this is innate, learned or felt?
Fears are normal – everyone has a fear of something. The fear becomes abnormal when it begins to interfere with your daily life.
A certain amount of anxiety is good as it allows adrenalin to enhance performance to achieve a goal. However, if this anxiety becomes all consuming and prevents you from achieving, then it is a problem that needs addressing.
Age appropriate fears should dissipate with time, but should these remain or worsen, that’s a red flag.
Anxiety and depression do not illustrate physical symptoms and people may assume there is nothing wrong with the child. They are treated unfairly and are often labelled as attention seekers, badly behaved or moody.
The above treatment from individuals disappoints me. If a child falls and hurts his arm, one does not think twice to assist, calm them down and seek the correct medical attention. It is often easier to treat a physical ailment. However, when you are dealing with matters of the mind, the flight is a far more turbulent one.