On to the next part of "Parenting an Anxious Child". Hopefully you have been able to read and/or listen to my first post on this topic. I felt that offering some background on why I have an opinion on this topic would be helpful before spewing my "knowledge" all over this blog. I have been trying to decide the best way to approach this second post and I think I will just start at the beginning and share some things I learned during each phase of Abbie's life.
Now, I don't want to have you think that Abbie was a terrible baby/toddler. She wasn't. She had plenty of sweet moments, which is why I kept thinking, "Is my baby bi-polar?" It was worrisome at times, but I did not know what to do. So, I prayed a lot, and read a lot, trying to find some answers.
One answer that I kept getting was, "This girl needs her independent spirit to do some really hard and amazing things, so you need to be patient with her."
Okay. Much easier said than done. Especially for a mother who has (or had, I am much better now) a short fuse. Some days would go really well, I was able to stay patient, and deal with the independence in a healthy manner. Other days...not so much. Those were the really hard days; the days I would go to bed in tears because I knew I was the most terrible mother in the world. What mother loses her patience with a baby/toddler? (Well, actually, I think it's safe to say that all mothers have done that at one point or another. The adversary just wanted to make sure that I felt alone in my trials. He's good at that. I don't like that about him.) But, that's a story for another blog post. Let's get on with some suggestions.
Suggestions for Birth-Toddler Years
*Don't forget to breathe.
*Upcoming family vacations involving eating out, amusement parks, condos with balconies, plane rides, or car rides give you nightmares.
Suggestions for Preschool Years
(Some are the same as the baby/toddler suggestions...)
*Don't forget to breathe.
To be continued...
Next time I will finish up my ramblings on parenting an anxious child with the elementary school years and middle school years (which I am in the middle of right now, so any suggestions from parents with older kids will be appreciated. :)
I have four children. My oldest will by 19 soon and my youngest is 11. In the realm of parenting, I feel like I am somewhere between the beginning and the middle...not a beginner, but definitely not close to the end. Becoming a mom was the one thing I wanted to do in my life. I didn't care about a career, schooling, or anything else, really. I just wanted to be a mom. Can you blame me when my kids have turned out this cute? Lol.
When everything didn't turn out like I had envisioned...
You know the vision I am talking about.
*You are the parent who patiently talks your kids through a temper tantrum and at the end of the tantrum, there are hugs and kisses and everyone is happy with no lingering emotional scars.
*Every day is filled with bliss because you have family scripture study every morning and you say your family prayers twice a day. There ain't no way Satan's busting through that armor...
*All of your children are well-adjusted, beautiful human beings who love being with each other, share with each other, serve one another, and basically never exhibit any signs of anything being "wrong."
Anyone else rolling their eyes and laughing at this point?
Ya. I know. I was living in dream land. This type of scenario is absolutely, 100% not possible. Why? Because we are human, that's why, and...our kids are human too. We all have weaknesses, frailties, and challenges that affect our thoughts, words, and actions, every single day. No one ever said parenting was going to be easy, and anyone who does say that is either not a parent, or is living in an alternate reality.
Skip to the good part...
Let's get down to it. You are here to learn about parenting an anxious child, not to read/listen to me babble on about how my journey with parenting is completely different than the journey I imagined it would be.
If you'll notice, this post is labeled "The Anxious Child: Part 1" because there is no way I would every be able to cover everything I have learned in one post. As I have pondered how to organize my thoughts for this post, I thought it would be best to start with a brief history of why I have experience with this topic.
Trying to tame the lion.
As Abbie got older, her independence and intense personality became more pronounced and there were some days where I truly did feel like a lion tamer. I loved her to pieces and she was the sweetest little girl, but sometimes I wondered if she had split personalities or if she could be bi-polar. The change from sweet to sassy was in an instant and there seemed to be no regular triggers that we could avoid.
I tried everything I could think of to learn how to be a better mom to her and be better capable of helping her learn how to use her strong spirit in good ways...
Many, many prayers said. Too many to count.
I remember when she was 5 or 6, I had the idea (or revelation from the Spirit who was trying to help me succeed), that I should offer Abbie some "Sweet Pills" when she was having a meltdown. This is one thing that did work for quite some time, so it's something you could definitely try in your own home. The idea was that I had a jar of little candies (I used the tiny Sweet Tart Mini Chewies, which were her favorite) and the only time she could have this candy was when she needed a "sweet pill" to help her chase away the grumpies and be sweet again. It didn't bring her out of every single meltdown, but a good majority of the time, it offered her enough of a distraction to reset to the point where I could at least talk to her without yelling (from me or her.)
Moving forward...and backward.
I say we moved forward and backward because even though we were learning great things during our therapy sessions, the implementation of those things at home was difficult. It took a great deal of patience (which I lack) and persistence (which is hard when you're just plain tired) to use the tools we had been given.
Not only was it hard to remember to use the tools in the heat of the moment, Abbie kept growing up and maturing, which then brought hormones into the game, which...changed the whole game. We decided that it would be in Abbie's best interest to start trying Zoloft as a way to help her brain function properly. When we first started down the therapy road, I did not want to resort to medication. But, as one of Abbie's therapists explained so well, if she was a diabetic, you wouldn't withhold medication from her, would you? No! That's crazy! Of course I wouldn't? So why, then, was it so hard to say, "Yes, let's try some mediation to help"? One word...STIGMA. There is a definite stigma associated with mental health and medication and I had fallen into the trap.
Abbie's brain was not functioning in a manner that was allowing her to face certain situations in a healthy, rational manner. Instead, her brain was forcing her to exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression and there was nothing she could do to stop it. It was highly frustrating for her, who just desperately wanted to be a "normal" kid and not freak out all the time, but she just couldn't, no matter how many tools/exercises she used.
The end and the beginning.
That really leads us to where we are today. Abbie is now 14 years old and has worked so hard to battle these demons in her life. She continues to work hard every day and some days, the fight is just too hard. Those are really hard days and they are difficult to watch. But, she is a fighter, and just like she fought to live when she was born, she will continue to fight her mental illness until the day she dies. She is one of the strongest girls I know and I am so grateful to have her in my life. I have learned a lot of lessons just from being blessed to be her mother.
As I end this post, I leave you with the promise that this is only the beginning. Next week, I will share more information on how we battled each of the stages that I mentioned in this post. Thanks for sticking with me as I introduced Abbie. I felt it was important to share this background with you, in order to successfully relay to you some of the things that have worked (and not worked) for us.
Until next week...
Keep up the good work.
You're doing better than you think.
You've got this.
Are you ready for this?!?
Before we get too far, there's something you should know...
Let's get this party started, shall we?
And when I say party, I mean the kind where kids are hanging from the curtains, chasing each other with knives, dumping out their full cereal bowls on the carpet, laughing, and running away. 'Cause that sounds like parenting, doesn't it? At least, that's how it feels a lot of the time.
Parenting is a hard gig; no doubt about it. However, with all of the hard times, there are those magical "can it just stay this way forever" times that make your heart melt, like...
When your children actually exhibit signs that they DO love each other.
Starting at the beginning...
As we move forward on this journey together, I feel it will be important to recognize something... YOU WILL NEVER BE A PERFECT PARENT, however, you CAN and WILL have PERFECT PARENTING MOMENTS.
With that in mind, we can start in a good place, one in which we recognize that perfection is attainable in small increments. We also need to recognize that not only is it okay to make mistakes as a parent, but it's perfectly okay to ADMIT that you make mistakes as a parent. That is key to moving forward. Yes, parents make mistakes, and it's important that you recognize those mistakes, admit those mistakes, and help your kids see that it is good to admit when you are wrong and learn from your mistakes.
What topics will be covered?
Let's Do This.
The first topic will focus on parenting an anxious child. This was not how I intended to begin this blog series, but with a focus on Mental Health during the month of May, I thought this would be a fantastic topic to tackle. My plan is to post every Wednesday, so tune in next Wednesday as we begin to discuss parenting kids with mental health needs, specifically, kids with anxiety.
If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share that relates to the topic of parenting kids who battle anxiety, please share them with me!
Until next week...
Keep up the good work.
You're doing better than you think.
You've got this.
Yesterday was my 6-year "Cancerversary" and I didn't even post anything about it.
Which is kind of weird because I have posted something every year until this year. But I just wasn't feeling it yesterday. I thought about it being my "cancerversary". I even thought about things that I could post, but when it came down to it, I just didn't want to.
Maybe it's because I am still trying to hang on to the lazy days of summer.
Maybe it's because I was too busy living the "mom life" by doing yard work, house work, and trying to squeeze out every last drop of summer time family togetherness.
Or maybe it's because I don't really feel like counting anymore.
Or at least, I don't feel like counting the years anymore...just my blessings.
And I could spend the rest of my life counting my blessings and never run out of things to count.
That is something that the past six years have taught me, and that is something that I will spend the rest of my life talking about.
Life is hard, but life is good.
The past six years have taught me that my job as a mother is my absolute most important job...ever. Teaching my children about the Savior and His gospel, helping them to be kind and generous, loving them, and being their biggest fan...those are the things that I need to focus on. Am I perfect at it? No. Do I try hard every day? Yes.
I am a mother in a partnership with God as I have been entrusted with His children.
I have been reminded over and over again that I can do hard things when I ask for heavenly help.
I Can Do Hard Things.
I have learned that every single day I am breathing is a gift from God and that I have a purpose here on earth. Some days I forget that and those are the days when I have panic attacks and feel the anxiety creeping in. But the days that I remember the bigger picture--the eternal perspective--those are my favorite days.
Each day is a precious gift from God.
I have taken a scripture to heart that has helped me through some pretty tough times. That scripture and so many more will continue to help me as I live to not only endure this life, but enjoy it as well, no matter what lies ahead.
D&C 6:36 "Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not."
And finally, I have learned that I am surrounded by goodness. I knew that before, but I cherish it more now. My family, my friends, my surroundings, they are all precious to me and I thank God every day for them.
There is truly beauty all around.
Yes, I have learned a lot over the past six years, but there is one thread that joins all of the lessons together.
One beautiful golden thread that is unbreakable.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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