Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My anxious boy

Anxiety is defined as fear or nervousness about what might happen.  We all experience it, just on different levels and at different intensities.  I rarely worry or feel anxious about anything.  I have a confidence and belief that things happen for a reason.  I always try everything in my power to be sure I've done everything I can to create the outcome I hope for and that serves us all the best but I know that's not realistically going to always happen.  And that's where the shoulder shrug comes in.  I'm good at that.  The, "*shrug*, Well, I guess that's just how it is."  Many people aren't capable of getting to the shrug state.  My sweet William is one of them.

I can look back now and see that William was always anxious.  He fits the mold of the Anxious Child very well.  He's extremely bright, very self-aware,  as well as very aware of his surroundings and the world around him.  This, coupled with the emotional maturity of a little boy, makes for an anxious kid.  He cried all the time.  Not just randomly, it was fairly predictable, but it was a lot.  It wasn't the spoiled brat kid cry, it was always related to a situation that was out of his control.  He also always needed to know what time it was, what we were doing next, what was I doing in there, where were we going today, what was I going to buy when we got inside, etc.  I chalked it up to him being curious and smart and nosy.  At age 3 he'd say, "Mommy, what time is it?"  and I'd say, "Why?  Got a hot date?".  He'd then repeat the question.  I now see that he needed to KNOW. 

I became aware that this was true anxiety when his crying began to happen in public in the last few months over situations that a "normal" kid would be able to handle just fine.  I'm of the mindset that crying isn't bad for boys.  I've never told him he can't cry.  But let's be honest.  He's 7, he's in 2nd grade, and kids are going to start making fun of him.  When he would stand outside his classroom and cry in the morning, I recently started saying, "You can't cry, your friends will see you.  You're too big to be crying at school in front of your friends unless you are injured or sick.  They will make fun of you."  Well.  That did it.  His anxiety flew off the charts after only a few days of that.  I couldn't figure out what the deal was. When all along I was making it so much worse. 

His crying was his release for his anxiety.  It always has been.  I can see that now.  My words made him then afraid to cry.  Well, if crying was the release and now he feels he can't cry, what is he supposed to do now?  He became scared that he'd feel anxious and all he knew to do in those situations was to cry.  He became scared of all situations.  YOU wouldn't see that in him, but WE did.

The last straw was then soon after all of that he started not wanting to go to my best friend's house, he turned down a birthday party invitation from a friend, and he didn't want to get together with friends after school.  I could see that all of this was a bad road to be on.  I sought out help.

My tools to help him with his anxiety were these:  "Take a deep breath."  "Stop crying."  "It's not worth crying about, Buddy."  Obviously, these are worthless.  My toolbox, for the first time ever, was empty.  EMPTY.  My boy needed help in learning to deal with this anxiety and take-a-deep-breath wasn't working anymore.

We are currently part of a program offered by Kaiser for kids from ages 6-11.  The parents are involved, too.  They fill the kids' toolboxes and ours as well.  William LOVES it and although his case of anxiety is so mild compared to some of the kids in his group, he learns when he doesn't know he's learning.  It's awesome and I am so grateful.

William has taught me patience through his impatience and he has taught me calmness through his anxiousness.  We are a good team.  And we're playing hard at this game.  Together.      \


  1. <3

    Once you see it, it gets easier for both of you. We're a million miles away from where we were a year ago.

  2. When I had a bedwetting problem my dad told me to stop it because the kids at school would make fun of me. That didn't help obviously. I wasn't doing it on purpose. I would've rather not wet the bed. Luckily for me, I overcame dad's empty toolbox naturally. William's problem sounds like it will take more work to fix, but at least he's got a tenacious mom who's still digging around for more tools. - Jay


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