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.
PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS.
As I listened to this podcast, I found myself wanting to yell out, "YES! I agree! You are so right! Keep talking! How can I make sure everyone listens to this?"
This podcast mainly focuses on the mental illness of Depression, but the information shared can apply to any form of mental illness.
And although this podcast focuses on mental illness in the realm of the LDS culture and the stigmas that come into play there, the things that they talk about can apply to society as a whole, regardless of your religion.
"A majority of us will be affected by depression. Either having depression ourselves, or being around family or friends who are suffering from depression and so it becomes all of our problem...we as a society have to dispel the myths."
3 Myths of Mental Illness (in regards to the LDS Culture)
1. All mental illness is caused by sin.
(For more information on each of these myths, read this article found in the October 2005 Ensign Magazine)
"If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing
and get the best medical care available.
So too with emotional disorders.
Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts
He has provided in this glorious dispensation."
-Jeffrey R. Holland
To close this post, I would like to end with one more quote from the book, Valley of Sorrows: A Layman's Guide to Understanding Mental Illness for Latter-Day Saints. I have not read this book yet. I only learned about it from this podcast (although it sounds vaguely familiar so maybe someone has shared it with me before...) I will be getting this book soon and I am sure it will be filled with all sorts of pretty colors as I highlight and make notes in the margins.
"I assure you that Latter-Day Saints are in no way exempt from the burden of mental illness either as a victim, caregiver, family member, or friend. In every ward and stake there are severely depressed
My friends, I have said it before and I will say it again...You are not alone in your depression or anxiety. It doesn't matter who you are, how spiritual you are, how wealthy you are, how poor you are, or whatever else...mental illness can (and probably already is) a part of your life. If it is not something that you personally are suffering from, I say, "Congratulations." You were meant to deal with other trials in this life, BUT, I guarantee you that someone you love IS suffering from mental illness and they need love and support, not judgment and stigmas.
Let's work together to help each other, no matter what the trial may be. We all have 'em. So let's get to work and lift each other up, shall we?
And just for fun...here's this video again.
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.
Man, am I ever! The countdown is definitely on around our house. We are looking forward to everything that summertime brings.
I am loving my second chance at life.
What's Happening on
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