Eureka! I found myself saying this the other day in my head when Michael had an “Aha” moment. This moment was so important as it has shaped the last three days of our family life. Michael has finally began understanding his severe anxiety and his phobias and how to start using strategies. Thank goodness he is a child who can talk to me about his fears, real and imagined. Besides doing this, however, he is also learning to detect signs that his anxiety is growing. He experiences stomach aches, tension, and panic attacks. The panic attacks are new. He will start to cry and say he does not want to be home. Home is where even when structured, he can hear the inner critical voice that says things he gets overwhelmed with and he can never be as busy than he is outside the home.The first time he shared this with me my heart broke. The only consolation was I could commiserate. As an anxiety sufferer myself, and one who has been on that roller coaster of emotions for most of my forty odd years, I was able to tell Michael that his inner critical voice exaggerates and even lies. It is a scared voice that needs support and acceptance as well as love from the rest of him. Once he learns how to love all of him, his anxiety will lessen. I know this, as I have learned tricks over the years to manage my own anxiety. I am constantly honing new mental muscle to be able to cope as well, and know that I can and will reach out for help whenever I need it.
In the meantime, we are doing the great exercises his Educator has given us for anxiety. They range from writing out scenarios of fears along with the worst and best possible outcomes, as well as wonderful ones that teach children about red thoughts and green thoughts, red thoughts being negative or stressful ways of looking at events, and green thoughts being positive ways to frame things in their minds. They also talk about how problems can be viewed as challenges to be overcome. Finally, he filled out a sheet that had him read situations and he had to label them as an Antidote or a Poison. Michael got them all right, and I could see him beginning the process of understanding his own anxiety. We talked about how everyone has anxiety as well as fears and phobias.
So how to know when your exceptional child gets their anxiety? Here are some of the signs:
- They recognize signs of fear in their bodies: The first time Michael was able to say his stomach or head hurt, I knew we were on the way to him recognizing the first signs of anxiety.
- They cry or are angry more often: Anger and anxiety often go hand in hand. As I have told people, Michael cycles in and out of anger and anxiety most days. Lately it has been anxiety, and I see the panic attack as he will cry and tell me he is feeling overwhelmed.
- Appetites change or diminish: This is so true, though if your child is on medication for anxiety or aggression, that will affect appetite too. Still, you will see that some times they say they are scared and don’t want to eat. At other times, you will see them eat more.
- They want to learn ways to manage it: The day that Michael was eager to do the homework and strategies to manage his anxiety, was when I knew he was ready for it.
- They start applying what they have learned. As a Mom what has made me most proud, is to see Michael using the belly breathing I have showed him to manage his anxiety, start replacing his negative thoughts with positive ones, and slowly move back into meditation and mindfulness. He has also went and retrieved old articles and read them to himself to figure out how they could help him.
Exceptional Parents, what are your stories when your Exceptional Child started to understand how to manage their anxiety and stress? Every child is different, and they will regulate their emotions differently too. The important thing is when you see your child practicing the strategies you have taught them, looking at articles or books that help them regulate, and asking for help. This means they are ready to take the next step-that is, managing to control their own fears and knowing that they are the true masters of their destiny. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker, and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism, ADHD and type 1 diabetes, is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom by showing me how different brains view the world in a whole new way! My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible for them to do! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.