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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

The power of struggle

Zachary Wright “had to drag my son kicking and screaming into kindergarten.” He remembered his own “struggles with anxiety, depression and panic” as a child.

There I was, a terrified boy, probably 10 or so, hiding in bathrooms, trying to breathe, convinced of my own eventual insanity. There I was, a quiet boy trying to avoid the notice of the older kids. Refusing to get out of the car to go into day camp. Paralyzed with fear at being called upon to present in front of the class.

It was painful to see his son’s watery eyes and quivering lip. But when it was time to pick him up, Wright’s son was smiling.

. . . I was reminded of the staggering strength of our young people, these little humans in their little bodies navigating a world so large and loud. I was reminded, yet again, that life is struggle, and woe would it be for me to envision my role of father as he who spares my son the experiential power of struggle. . . . “You did it!” I said. “Yup!” he replied, with the infuriating and inspiring matter-of-factness of a 5-year-old.

Perri Klass, M.D., writes on How to Help a Child with an Anxiety Disorder in the New York Times. Parents can help, advises a new Child Mind Institute report, but not by “arranging the child’s life to avoid the occasions of anxiety.”

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