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.
Sound familiar, ladies?
How many times have I yelled out in frustration, "Why do I have to do this?" It has been the first question on my "list of things to ask God" for many, many years. And although I had a complete hysterectomy in 2012, I have surprised myself and my doctors by having Phantom PMS symptoms. How is that fair? I was looking forward to being a "normal" person and not having to experience monthly bloating, irrational outbursts, and irritation with everything around me, among other things. (But let's be real here, is anyone ever really "normal" with no irrational outbursts or annoyances? Ya. I didn't think so.)
The latest saga in the PMS life of Desirae happened this weekend. At first, I didn't even realize what was happening. The weekend started great and I was happy, but things slowly started to creep downhill and I found myself getting more and more irritated with stupid little things. Then WHAM-O! Sunday night comes and it is melt-down city for me, baby. I threw a big mommy temper tantrum and sent myself to a Time Out. I took out my journal, vented some frustrations, and allowed myself a pity party.
When I woke up on Monday morning, I was still not feeling quite like myself so I took a moment, found a quiet place, and knelt down to pray. Now, don't get me wrong. This is not the first time that I prayed during my PMS weekend. However, it was the first time that I prayed with a heart that I had willed to calm down.
Guess what happened?
As I was praying, a light bulb went on in my head and I received an answer that I wasn't asking for or expecting. It wasn't a thundering shout or even a small whisper. It was just a simple thought that popped into my head. I thought,
"Maybe we have PMS so that we have to rely on God for help at least once a month."
Maybe that sounds a bit ridiculous, but go with me here.
What if God, in all His wisdom, blessed the women of the world with PMS so that we would always have at least one reason to check in with Him every single month? I don't know about you, but there have been many prayers uttered during my time with PMS symptoms, begging for the pain to subside or for the raging lunatic to be calmed.
Think about this for a moment. When your life is going good--the bills are all paid, the family is healthy, the cars are all running and life is fantastic, how easy is it to forget to check in with God? We all have a tendency to check in with Him often when the storms are raging, but when the calm breezes of life are blowing, it's easy to just give Him a wave and say, "Things are going great right now, but thanks for thinking of me anyway!"
But when that week from "you know where" hits, we need Him. At least, I need Him. I don't like being a lunatic (not an angry one anyway) and although I don't suffer from cramps anymore, I do have other symptoms that make me uncomfortable and irritable. So, I pray. I plead. I beg. I ask that I can have an extra set of angel hands to help me endure the madness.
I like to think that I am a strong, independent woman. I stand up for things that I believe in. I am secure in my role as a wife, mother, teacher, student, and whatever other hat I may be wearing at any given moment.
I hope that I never, ever get so independent that I forget to be dependent
on the God who created me.
So yes, I am going to say it, I am finally grateful for PMS in my life. With all of its horrors, I have also been blessed with peace--peace in knowing that in the grand scheme of life, it only lasts for a short time, that my family usually forgives me rather quickly for the "raging lunatic" moments, and that every month I will have at least one opportunity where I will be gently reminded that I need to check in with God.
I have always been a big note-taker. Conferences, classes, workshops, you name it.
I have probably taken notes for it.
Moment of truth time...I love to see my handwriting scrawled across sheets of paper. Weird? Maybe.
But that's how I roll.
So when I read the objectives for Lesson 3 in my GS class and it said, "Establish effective note-taking skills" I thought to myself, "Oh, piece of cake lesson! I've got this."
When am I ever going to learn that I know nothing?
Although there is really nothing wrong with the way that I have been taking notes, I learned another method that will definitely be more efficient for certain areas of my studies. It's called the Cornell Note Taking method. Ever heard of it? Me neither, but I am here to tell you, it is fabulous. If you are interested in seeing what this method is, I have included a template that you can download that will give you the basic idea of the concept.
As I mentioned before, I don't think that I will use this method for every instance when I need to take notes, but it will definitely be beneficial when I have things that I need to study for. It is a great way to keep your notes organized and find information quickly.
Another thing that we talked about this week was "Disciple Prep Centers" and how BYU-I is a place where we can prepare and learn how to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
"Discipleship demands the total transformation of a person by putting off the natural man and becoming a Saint through the Atonement." -David A. Bednar
There are three essential lessons to be learned @ BYU-I
1. Have faith that is focused on the Son of God.
2. Faith in the Savior is a spiritual gift. We must seek after faith.
3. Faith in the Savior and spiritual preparation dispel fear.
I am looking forward to my time at BYU-I and am excited about the opportunities it will provide me to not only learn secular information, but will increase my spiritual knowledge as well.
In my religion class we talked about the promises of the Lord. Where can we find promises from the Lord? In the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The Lord has promised us many things and He will keep those promises as we strive to keep promises that we have made with him.
How important is it to keep covenants that you make with God?
Well, I don't know, how important is it for your heart to keep beating or your lungs to keep breathing air? Keeping covenants with God is no different. It is essential to your spiritual survival.
Doctrine & Covenants Section 104:5-6
Breaking a covenant with God is a serious matter and if you think that it is not as serious as I am making it out to be, maybe you should get on your knees and ask God how serious He thinks it is.
God will keep His end of the bargain. Can He say the same about you?
Yowza! Sorry to get so deep and "hellfire and damnation" on you, but guys...you have to keep your covenants with God! He is, well...he's God. You cannot fool Him. He knows your heart and He knows your circumstances. Trust in Him. Trust in the covenants that you have made with Him. Focus on those covenants when the distractions and pretty things from the world come into your path. God's covenants will keep you safe. I not only believe this with all of my heart, but I know this with all of my heart because I have seen and felt the power of covenants in my life. I cannot deny the power that is in the covenants that we make with God in the holy temple. They are real and they are powerful.
Why do we build temples?
I could spent an hour trying to explain why the Mormon church (AKA the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) builds temples, but why would I do that when there is already a FANTASTIC video that explains the reason in less than 4 minutes? And before you turn away and say,
"Well, of course she puts a video up that was made by the Mormon church. It's going to give me a one-sided view that won't be accurate", just hold your horses.
This video not only has a modern day prophet and apostles talking about why we build temples, but it also has scholars who are not of the LDS faith explaining why Mormon's build temples. Please watch it. If this is the one thing that you watch from any of my posts, it will make me the happiest girl on planet earth.
Hopefully that wasn't too painful for you to watch. ;) But seriously, I hope that you understand a little more the "why" in the question, "WHY we build temples." Temples were build anciently; we read so in both the Old and the New Testament. So it makes complete sense to me that we should have temples today.
Why do we need temples?
Besides the fact that we need temples because it was something done anciently, (see Exodus 26-27, 40:35, 2 Chronicles 5:1-14, 7:1-2, Ezra 3:1-13, 6:3) if we claim to be the church of Jesus Christ that has been restored to the earth, then we need temples because Christ himself spent a lot of his time at the temple. (See Luke 2:40-49, Matthew 21:10-14)
I know that Christ walks in the temples that we have built in our day as well. I cannot fully explain to you how I know this, but I do.
I also know that we need temples because it is only through the ordinances we receive and the covenants that we make in the temples that we will fully qualify for exaltation. Notice I said "exaltation" not "salvation." You can be a good person, you can fill your life doing good things and following the Savior and His teachings and yes, you will have a wonderful place in the kingdom of God. There is no disputing that fact. However, if you want to truly become like God and receive all that is His, then He requires more effort on your part. He requires you to become worthy to go to the temple, receive your endowments (click here to learn more about that), and be sealed to your family for time and all eternity. The sealing power is something Christ bestowed upon his apostle Peter (see Matthew 16:13-19) and we have that same sealing power on earth today, but it can only happen in the temple.
Why is it important to make AND keep the covenants we make in the temple?
For me, this reason is simple.
Satan, AKA "the devil", AKA "the adversary", knows the power that comes from making AND keeping your sacred temple covenants. Why do I keep typing the word "and" in all caps? Because it's not enough to just go to the temple once and make those covenants with your Father in Heaven. YOU HAVE TO WORK YOUR WHOLE LIFE TO KEEP THOSE COVENANTS. But wait, you say, doesn't that take away my freedom to choose for myself if I have to keep covenants in order to receive exaltation? No. It does not. You always have the choice, but just like any other choice in this life, you don't get to choose the consequences of the choice.
What happens if you choose to not refill your tank with gas? You are going to run out of gas and be stranded. You made the choice, but you don't get to choose or change the consequence.
What happens if you choose to not drink water or eat food for a month? You will be dead. You made the choice, but you don't get to choose or change the consequence.
The same applies to making the choice to make AND keep your covenants with God. God will not be mocked. (See D&C 63:58) And if you feel that the Doctrine and Covenants is not an accurate or true book of scripture to use as a reference then I recommend that you read, from the Bible, the story of when Christ overturned tables in the temple. (See John 2:14-16, Mark 11:15-17) So I say it again, God will not be mocked. A covenant is a 2-way promise with God. He makes promises to you and you make promises to Him. I guarantee you that God will keep His promises to you. Can He say the same about you? Can He trust that you are going to keep the promises you made with Him?
The only way that you will accurately remember those promises is by attending the temple, and attending it often. When you are trying to learn a new song, do you know if perfectly after only hearing it one time? No. You have to hear it multiple times and practice it often in order to know it in your mind and your heart. The same applies to the covenants that you make in the temple. In order to fully know and appreciate the covenants and promises you make and receive in the temple, you need to go often.
Whew! Did you make it this far in the post? I hope so. The temple is such an important place to me and my greatest desire with this post is to hopefully get you thinking about the temple, but more importantly, praying about the temple. It will only be through prayer to our Heavenly Father that YOU will be able to receive answers about it.
I Love to See the Temple
And just for fun, I want to share this other version of the song with you that was recorded by a group of the cutest little munchkins you ever did see. They are from Korea and are singing the song in Korean. I dare you to watch it without smiling.
I love to see the temple.
Wait! One more! This acoustic guitar version is AMAZING!!!
So now, the real questions are...
Do you love to see the temple?
I am loving my second chance at life.
What's Happening on
Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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