Spring is around the corner so I know that is one of the reasons Michael is starting to get more anxious He has, however, made great progress with using strategies to handle his stress such as talking about his feelings, going to a calm spot to recharge, and crying without hitting himself, others or property. I have seen how hard he is working and our home token system has been fine tuned as well. He has been testing us with this, but understands the way it works and overall I am very impressed. He has adjusted to some changes in my work schedule, and now communicates his fears and anger better too. We are happy to see the aggression and horrible language replaced by true expressions of fear and anger and worry. The thing is that Dad and I are worried just how anxious he is about everything and how much control and reassurance he needs to have about everything in his life. Dad and I are worried about how hard he is on himself, how he stresses about things he is good at, and how upset he gets when something can’t get resolved immediately. We are constantly looking to add more tools to his toolbox, and are strongly considering some medication for his anxiety, though we are nervous about this step. There are pros and cons as with everything else. We need to find out all we can and then make the best decision possible.
At the same time I am beginning to see that Michael needs a little more TLC these days. He is a little clingier in some ways, only wanting me to put him to bed, worried when he can’t find me in the house and talking A LOT when he does find me. Yet, he openly says he does not want to share certain things about his day with me and he does not want me to hug or kiss him unless he specifies when or where on his cheek. As I said before, he is a tween with some little boy fears left over. I am simply reminding him I am there if he needs me. He has also been there for me too though. When I was feeling particularly stressed one afternoon, he wrapped his arms around me and said, “you’re the best Mommy ever,” and “it’s ok if you are sad or got angry Mommy. We all feel that way sometimes.” My favorite is still when he will give me a big hug/squeeze due to love and sensory issues an then say, “Ahh, I love Mommy’s neck. It is so warm. It is like a spa.” Our relationship has gotten much closer. And even with Dad they fight, but he loves his father very much and jumps up in excitement when Dad’s key turns in the lock. It’s just navigating the worries, the obsessive questions, and the loudness. I know they are all due to stress, and we are doing our best to remind him to pace himself, but it is not always easy. Still, we follow his pace. I have learned new ways Michael needs me.
He’ll need me to reassure him, to do a quick drawing or explanation of what’s about to happen or sometimes it’s reminding him how proud I am of him. Other times it is stopping completely what I am doing and focusing on him. He and I both do well with that and it works to help us both feel calm and connected. Last night for the first time in awhile, I was able to give Michael his full bedtime routine. At the end as he wrapped his arms around my neck and we cuddled for the ten minutes I stay in his room, he sighed happily and said, “this is my favorite part of the night. I love when you lie down with me and I can hug you.” My heart melted instantly. I quickly went over all the things I did right and vowed to set us both up for success with future anxious times.
Exceptional Parents, how do you handle your child’s anxiety and stress? What is part of their toolbox and yours? The hardest and most important thing to remember is to stop and really look and listen to your child and where they are coming from. Only when you see their pain and hurt, (and stay calm and centered yourself), can you guide them to make healthier choices for handling stress. Until next time.