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Please notice how I worded the title – How to HELP your anxious child. How to HELP with your anxiety. Not “dealing with your anxious child” or googling “how to deal with your anxiety”. For me, when I think of “dealing” with something it’s a small annoying thing that puts a dent in your day. You deal with a pimple. You deal with wet socks. But anxiety isn’t a small annoying thing that puts a dent in your day. It’s something that you’re LIVING with.
Before I get into anxiety in your child, I want you to know a few things.
NumberOne. A child with anxiety is not a reflection of your parenting. So stop thinking you’re a bad parent. The end!
NumberTwo. This is not your fault. Its no ones fault. Don’t put the blame on anyone BECAUSE NO ONE IS TO BLAME!
NumberThree. You WILL get through this. This is just a season of life. This is just the low part of the life rollercoaster. You won’t be there forever. Everything will eventually heal come back up again!
NumberFour. Its not about you. It’s about your child (or whoever the anxious person is)
Anxiety happens for a bunch of reasons. Childhood is nerve-wrecking. Adulthood is nerve-wrecking. Life, in general, is nerve wrecking!!
When I found out my oldest has anxiety, I numberone, thought I was a bad parent. Numbertwo, blamed myself. Then, I blamed my husband. Then, I blamed my parents. Then, I blamed my college…. the patriarchy… and alllllll the way up to my Spanish ancestors who were banished to the Philippines. It was stupid, ridiculous, and hilarious to look back on now. NumberThreeandFour, I totally made this about me and I thought that I would NEEEEVER over this situation. Dramatic, I know. But remember… nothing lasts forever!
So here is what I’m doing to help my anxious child:
Work with their teacher. My kids teacher and I have met, texted, emailed over and over again (yes, she’s sick of me) to figure out the best classroom strategies to help him cope. You see, anxiety can sometimes present itself as ADD/ADHD. You might have to request a 504 plan for your child. A 504 plan is a document on your child’s file that will give them additional services. These services include preferential seating (my son is the 5th person in a group of four at the front of the classroom – this gives him room to move around and stand if needed) or like, extra time on tests if needed.
Keep in mind that a 504 plan is basically an IEP. There needs to be 6 weeks of documentation, applied strategies, tests, and observations. The 504 plan will follow your child throughout school so these services will follow your kid for as long as they have the 504 plan.
Establish a CALM bedtime routine. I *know* all the parenting blogs and articles in the universe say to establish a GOOD bedtime routine. But a CALM one is needed. Like, parents. That’s you. I had a SOLID bedtime routine with the kiddos. Dinner, bath, story, prayer, bed. Boom. But like, in between all that I was all,
“SON! FINISH YOUR FOOD”
“Hey! Don’t splash your brother!”
“Please don’t throw the books everywhere!!!”
It was a good bedtime routine but really, really hectic. Our bedtime routine is like this:
6PM – Dinner
6:30PM – Big kids finish dinner/watch TV while I bathe the youngest
7:00PM – Youngest: brush teeth, read story, snuggles, down for bed. THEN big kids take a shower, and brush teeth
7:15PM – Bedtime Yoga (CosmicKidsYoga on YouTube is THE TRUTH)
7:30PM – Read a story, pray, and 29387 drinks of water and trips to the bathroom
8:00PM – Bed time
At night, I play a "bed time story" for the kids to fall asleep to. Its guided meditation for kids. This is the one that the kids always listen to to fall asleep.
Daily Affirmations. You know if you say something out loud long enough, you start to believe it? My anxious kid has anxiety because even though we tell him ALL the time that WE love him, he needs love his self first and empower himself. So we wrote these affirmations down right by his bed. He reads them out loud when he wakes up and before he goes to bed. Cater your affirmations to your own child.
These are his:
Before I drop him off we always say “I am still important and loved no matter what color I get on” together. The color coded clip chart is part of what gives my son anxiety.
Oils and Supplements. I started diffusing lavender in the kid’s room (1. Because the kids room smells like a perpetual foot and 2. Because its calming). Sometimes I switch it up with Chill Pill and Peaceful Sleep. I don’t know if these oils work or not but there are some people out there who swear by it.
What I CAN swear by are these anxiety drops that I started giving my son. They are quick release so if your child is having a moment, give it to them and it should subside. The drops help balance him and they allow him to calm down so we can figure out the root of the issue. I know his anger isn’t actually with the sock but we can talk about what he is actually frustrated about.
My son's therapist also suggested we incorporate the supplements L-Theanine and CBD twice a day every day. We were able to find both the L-Theanine and CBD in gummy form. However, I also got CBD oil drops for the morning because the CBD gummies do have melatonin in them.
A Grounding Object. I used to send fidget toys to school but instead of helping get all they wiggles out, they turned into distracting toys and he was constantly getting them confiscated. SO I started sending my son to school with one of my hair ties on his wrist. It's just a simple, inconspicuous hair tie that he can stretch, chew, or twirl around. We established rules (like no flinging the hair tie around or shooting it at someone or something) and what it was used for.
Seeking outside help. This was one of the things I really had a hard time with. I felt like a failure having my kid go to a therapist. But seeing how much improvement that my son had after just one session shut up of the self-doubt and bad thoughts about how my husband and I parent.
"Low and Slow". I'll admit it. I'm a yeller. I yell to be heard. I yell to because I'm angry. I yell because I have a naturally loud voice. But my yelling is stressing my kid out. When the therapist said, "Justine. You're gonna have to stop yelling." I got *legit* offended (probably cuz she called me out!) and said "I'm not going to NOT discipline my child. She responded with the "I didn't say you have to". Instead of freaking out with a loud and shrill voice, deliver the message LOW and SLOW.
DONT DO: BOYS! STOP FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER!
DO: Boys. Stop. Punching each other.
I'm only on day four of no yelling and it is SO HARD. But the kids are responding positively!
Every case of anxiety is different and finding out the perfect formula of strategies is just part of the journey. Sometimes you need to put a major plan in place, sometimes you don’t, sometimes some strategies work one day and don’t the next. It doesn’t matter what way you go about helping them…what matters is that you’re fighting with your kid to make them the best version of them self.
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