By LaKeisha, a Children’s National parent
My daughter, Taylor, loves spending time with her grandparents, Nanny and Pop-Pop. They have sleepovers, swim at the pool and eat out. Taylor was at their house to celebrate her 4th birthday when her father choked on a bite of his hamburger.
He coughed, vomited and sprawled on the floor. Taylor screamed, then ran and hid. She had a lot of anxiety when I picked her up the next day. It grew worse. She would eat only tiny bits of food. Seeing others eat upset her. She cleared her throat all the time. If her dad or grandparents called, she’d run upstairs crying. Her anxiety took over our life. I worried it would impact her at school and I didn’t know what to do.
I reached out to Children’s National. Their Early Childhood Behavioral Health program offered help. Taylor began weekly appointments with Dr. Amanda Hastings, a psychologist, at the hospital’s Takoma Theatre location. They talked and played with toy food, including a plastic hamburger. They created a story about her dad choking. They also talked about things a kid could do to help someone in that situation. Taylor’s confidence grew. After about 6 weeks she talked to her dad on the phone. She agreed to go out for pancakes with Nanny and Pop-Pop. She was so proud of herself. Seeing Taylor get back to being herself and knowing we had a support system provided a huge relief. Mental health is so important for little kids. For Taylor, it means she’s back to living her life.