Being the Parent of an Anxious Child is Tough

I didn’t realize how much it bothered me until my body could no longer hold the emotions inside. I was just washing the dishes and the thought popped into my head that I was unable to make my child’s life a brighter place. I felt so helpless and the tears came like waves down my cheeks. My chest welled up with the pressure that needed to be released. I had been holding on to the feelings for so long so that I could maintain a façade of normalcy. All the while feeling scared inside. Anticipating the day that would come when I would have to face the truth that our son was no longer able to live a normal life.

I’ve been acting strong, telling him things like, “Don’t let anyone else tell you things about yourself that are not true. We know what we’ve got and we’ve got a fantastic kid. We know that one day you are going to be happy and successful and I feel lucky everyday that I have a son like you.” But he still feels so inadequate. He still believes it when his friends tell him that he is terrible at basketball or that they don’t believe that he is cool enough to hang out with them. He tells us almost daily that the kids at school don’t like him. He is hanging on by a thread right now and I don’t know what else to do to help him.  The most frustrating part for me is that I know this is out of his control. He is actually a very handsome child who has just earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and is an honor student.  He should be feeling terrific about himself, but he is not able to. Why?

We’ve been to therapists and doctors and sleep studies, and tests and I still worry about him everyday. I just hope he will be able to hang on until he graduates from high school. To me he is such a sweet, kind and funny child.  I get so angry that his mind tells him a different story!

It is so draining on me to have to work so hard to help him to live a normal life.

All that said, “I am grateful for the challenge of raising such a complex child. I am grateful for every day that he is in my life.”

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How to Respond to a Bully

I attended a “stop bullying” workshop this weekend with my eleven year old son and my eight year old daughter. In the class the leaders taught the children that there were all types of bullies. They said that there were fat bullies, thin bullies, tall bullies short bullies, girl bullies, boy bullies, adult bullies, and child bullies, but all bullies were insecure. The leaders also suggested that most bullies want attention, and that most bullies don’t feel good about themselves. Below are the tips that I learned from the workshop and that I thought were the most realistic for an anxious child to apply to their own situations.

1. Ignore the person who is bullying you.  This one was my favorite because this tactic takes the wind out of the bully’s sail. The leaders of the workshop acted out a possible bullying scenario and it was funny to watch what happens to the bully in a situation like this. The victim pretended not to hear the bully and walked away and all of a sudden the bully was the one that looked uncomfortable and insecure. This tactic works even better if there are people around because the other people will all be staring at the bully which will add to his or her discomfort.

2. Agree with the bully. If the bully tells you that your are fat agree with them by saying something like, “Yeah, I am getting fat I need to stop eating so many lucky charms.” The bully will be stumped and will learn that he can not bring you down.  Most bullies want you to feel as insecure as they do. When they realize that they can’t do that to you they will pick on someone else.

3. Laugh at yourself. If the bully laughs because you tripped, make fun of how you looked when you tripped. The bully doesn’t win.

4. Call out to a friend or an adult that you see. It brings attention to yourself and will cause the bully to stop.

5. At a last resort take a defensive stance and make a lot of noise about it. This will tell the bully that you mean business.

After the class my small fair-haired daughter wore her stop bullying t-shirt everywhere we went and I saw people read her shirt and smile. Even the biggest toughest looking boys looked at her with respect. She was oblivious to people’s reactions but I was not and I saw how much respect she got by wearing that opinionated shirt. She radiated confidence.

Celebrating Our Children’s Accomplishments!

I must admit I’ve been taking a break from blogging in order to celebrate!  My eleven year son who has a lot of anxiety was able to go on a camping trip with his class and spend two nights and three days! This was a huge accomplishment for Chase, who has a phobia of sleeping, and it warmed my heart to see how proud he was of himself after he did it. It was not easy and it took the help of some very compassionate and dedicated school advisors to help him or should I say exhaust him. He called me twice the first night telling me how scared he was because the other boys had been telling scary stories. Then at eleven p.m. he told me he wanted me to pick him up and bring him home. After he realized that his plight was futile I tried to help him relax for the next hour.

The next day I talked to the chaperone, Mr. Andrews, who told me that Chase didn’t sleep all night and that he paced the floors, but Mr. Andrews said “I am confident that I will be able to wear him down today!” I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that comment but I was hopeful that he knew what he was doing because what I had been doing sure wasn’t working. Just as I expected I got another phone call that night from Chase begging me to come pick him up. I reassured him that he was going to be able to sleep because I knew deep down inside Chase wanted to be able to sleep at camp. I told him that he was so tired that he was going to lay down in bed and fall asleep in a second and that is exactly what ended up happening.  He even slept through his roommates screaming in the middle of the night because they thought a wolf spider was in the cabin.

I don’t know if there are other parents out there that feel the way that I do (exhausted by the end of the day), but if you are like me you probably invest a lot of your life helping your children to grow, learn, build self-esteem, make new friends, and SLEEP through the night. At the end of the day I usually feel like if one more hand tugs on my shirt, one more voice asks for help, one more scream needs attention or one more pet paw steps on my foot I’m going to sit in the time out chair and stay there.  On the other hand I don’t know what is more rewarding than seeing that my efforts have paid off! I sometimes forget to be so grateful for the things that are right in front of me because I’m so busy trying to take care of someone or something. I see other kids doing something terrific and say “why don’t my kids do that?” Then when it’s quiet in the morning and I’m the only one awake and I’m waiting to hear the footsteps of little feet coming down the stairs, I remember how grateful I am of the family that I’ve been given and the opportunity that I have to celebrate their accomplishments with them. The quiet mornings help me to remember how different we all are as human beings and one person’s accomplishment is just as great as the next.  After all life is so short that it can pass us by while we are busy trying to get it right.  I have to remind myself to live life sometimes instead of work it. I remember that saying “Life is what happens when your busy making plans.”  I think it also applies to making promises, making goals, and making expectations.   So as a part of my celebration I did nothing! I realized that by watching my family I didn’t need to take care of anything or anyone. They are quite capable of finding their own happiness. They are also quite capable of finding their shoes, pouring their own lemonade, fixing their own snack and organizing their own life. I’m sure I’ll forget this tomorrow, but today I’m celebrating.