Doesn’t Matter the Label, Just Matters That I am Mom

The label that my middle child receives down the road as we venture into the path of a possible new diagnosis really doesn’t matter to me. Aj’s Dad and I have been raising the same boy for the past seven years so whatever label is placed upon our son really doesn’t matter as it pertains to anything other than giving us something to research better. You see, no one lives our life. No one outside of our home has experienced the real Aj.

With no medication interfering with Aj in any way positive nor negative, the school is starting to get a glimpse into what our world has been like for years with Aj. He’s either withdrawn and down or hyper and happy. This is why there is certainly a mood aspect to our son but there is also this other side of Aj where he shows anxiety, he is anxious about new things and anxious that life needs go to a certain way. Then there is that routine driven side of Aj and that mentality that once he has it in his head something is correct, there is no talking him out of it.

There is the side to Aj where you could tell him the sky is blue and if he is convinced at that day and time that the sky is purple, then the sky is purple. It’s that simple for Aj. Aj is a complex child yet also very simple. The real world rules don’t necessarily apply to our sweet Aj, he is unique and in some ways unique is a great thing while in other ways unique can get into the way of a public school child. Aj is starting to show me signs of concern in the public school environment, I wonder if he will ever make real friends, real long term friends. I wonder if Aj will ever have a life that is one that people classify as normal.

Then I realize … those wonders are my anxiety kicking in. As I watch Aj suffer with some anxiety symptoms, I notice my generalized anxiety disorder starts to chime in. It’s this emotional connection that Aj’s counselor has advised me to separate better with that keeps me wondering and worrying about things outside of my control. I am better at controlling my anxiety, after all I haven’t had medication for anxiety in many years. I have learned to fight anxiety and I will teach my son the same skills, as I have with my oldest.

Aj is a happy child, if anyone asks I would say he is compassionate with a huge heart but he lacks the understanding of sarcasm or snide comments. You see, with Aj you have to say what you mean and mean what you say because if not, he gets frustrated. Aj doesn’t comprehend sarcasm for the most part, yet there are a rare few moments that he actually may look at you after a quick witted comment and smirk as if he got it. Those moments are rare. For the most part, Aj is a child who needs people to say what they mean and mean what they say.

Aj cannot have people in his home environment that cannot be that person for him, it’s not easy. My daughter and his younger brother have worked hard and continue to work as a family to ensure Aj has a safe, loving home environment. That means far too often we have to bite our sarcastic tongue and say things the way Aj needs to hear them. While we find humor in sarcasm, Aj does not. In my mind, it’s not that difficult but when you have a tween daughter and younger sibling of a child like this, it can cause a ruckus from time to time.

I don’t want to deter my daughter and my other son from being who they are to their core, but I want to teach them to respect who Aj is at his core as well. It’s a juggling act around here most days. Whatever label Aj ends up with for a diagnosis, I am okay with that, because after all, I have been raising him for seven years so no matter what they say “he has”, reality is HE IS my son, always has been and always will. I will always be here fighting for him right beside him and encouraging him to move forward to lead a happy, healthy life.

As I do with my other children. That is my job. My job is Mom.

{Book Review} Stress Free Kids – A Parent’s Guide

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With today’s fast paced world it’s no wonder more and more children are suffering from anxiety. It’s a difficult world we live in these days and the social media aspect of our children’s lives add to the normal every day peer to peer pressures our children face. While my children are not on social media just yet, I can see how this fast pace everything-happens-now type of life can be a strain on our children who are not born to handle such extremes.

bookstressfreekids

Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety in Children is almost like having a baby book how-to for new parents, we all need to have a self help book to guide us in the proper directions with our children from time to time. Society places so many demands onto a child, it’s no wonder more and more children, including my own, are being diagnosed with some level of anxiety. If you are a parent who has suffered from anxiety your own self, then it may be easier for you to work with your child but all too often I find parents who have not a clue how to uplift their anxious child. This book comes in handy as a way to open any parent’s eyes to methods that may not have been tried in their household as of yet. It’s a genuinely amazing book and I would highly recommend you take a gander at reading it.

Stress Free Kids really does guide parents to teach their children how to manage stress, worries and build self-esteem. Most of you who frequent my online ramblings know that I am a huge advocate for high self-esteem in children and making children feel secure. I am raising a child with a mood disorder and anxiety, this book has really helped me see that I have been doing a decent job all along to ensure my children have the skills to cope with today’s society but my fiance, on the other hand, wants to read this book to better learn how to handle scenarios in our household with both my kids and his teenagers. Life is all about learning and in parenting, every day is a learning experience. Think of Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety in Children as a pocket bible for parents raising children in today’s highly demanding world!

The author, Lori Lite has been featured in Real Simple, Family Circle, the New York Times, Prevention and USA today. Suggested retail for this book is $15.99 (US) and $17.99 (Canada). ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6751-3 ISBN 10: 1-4405-6751-4

Having a Sensitive Child and Being a Sensitive Adult

Dinner was done Pajamas were on. Books were read. Boys were tucked in and Jenny the pug was placed on Aj’s bed. All was completed as normal. K-man was fast asleep. Then it happened…

Raising a Sensitive Child

Aj started having his issues that he has every so often, since he has been off of medication these occurrences are few and far between, but they still happen. Aj is a unique child with a bit of bipolar, anxiety, autistic spectrum symptoms and more all mixed into this compassionate, loving 7 year old boy. I am not sure what is the cause of my son Aj being more sensitive to energies of others, specifically mine, but I am the same way. The energy or aura that surrounds people is something I am extremely sensitive to and this is something that Aj struggles with. Being that I am 32 years old, I am better able to work with this sensitivity but a 7 year old cannot yet learn to cherish and work with such a power.

I used this sensitivity to benefit Aj the other night when he found himself, yet again, fixated on the idea that his belly hurt. Aj was very fidgety and slightly whiny over the fact that, within minutes of being tucked in, he was convinced his belly hurt. While most kids are honest when their belly hurts, it’s something for a parent to be concerned about, it’s not the case 99% of the time with my son Aj. Usually his “stomach aches” are more so to do with the fact that his mind is racing and anxiety for whatever reason has consumed his thoughts, thus bringing on a belly ache. Being that Aj fixates on things, a sudden belly ache doesn’t allow his mind to relax to sleep, instead it creates a whole bowl of stress for him and me.

I started to feel really frustrated as this was the second night in a row he was “pulling this stunt”, but I have an open mind, patient soul and loving nature so I knew there had to be a way to work with Aj to ensure he didn’t end up having to sleep on a make shift bed on my bedroom floor. I had to walk away.

I let Aj know I would be back in a few but do not be loud because I don’t want him to wake up his brother who was fast asleep on the top bunk.

After taking a moment to step away, Aj had some self control and didn’t go totally loud, but rather kept tossing and turning and whining about his belly ache while pouting. During my time that I walked away, I thought long and hard, I focused on clearning my mental clutter and freeing my own mind of any stress related topics. I essentially cleared my brain to a blank slate. I then returned to Aj’s bedside. I knelt down beside his bed with my head on his pillow and used my calm voice to relax Aj in an attempt to get his mind focused on sleep rather than the anxiety induced belly ache. Within moments Aj actually said I could lay on his bed next to him, this is something that never happens, as he has sensory issues with touch and doesn’t like people “in his space” when he is trying to sleep.

With a blank slate mind and nothing but calm, peaceful thoughts in my mind, I laid next to Aj and placed my arm just on him. Aj was laying on his side facing away from me and since he doesn’t like the weight of my arm on his body, again sensory stuff, I laid my feather light arm on his side as a way to help submit some of my calming energy to my son. Aj and I have always had this unique connection, he is the only one out of my three that really thrives on my energy, whatever energy I am giving off in my aura he feels and it affects him. Hence why I say my son is sensitive.

As weird as this may sound to those not as spiritually minded, I literally felt my thoughts transferring my calm energy through my finger tips on this side. I could feel energy being placed to him, slowly he stopped fidgeting, slowly he stopped speaking and finally within only just a few short minutes, he was breathing in his relaxed, fallen asleep state. I don’t care what you all call it, but I think in that moment, right there, I showed that I have a power of energy that I never knew existed, I had the power of using my calm aura to get my anxious son asleep without being stern while still remaining firm that he was to go to sleep and compassion for how he was feeling in that moment. I was able to use my calming energy to calm my son. This moment that happened was so spiritual for me and so magical that I felt this same feeling I had felt the first time I felt the warm sun beaming down on me after I had prayed so hard for God to give me a sign. I feel this was merely just another sign that I have more powers within than I ever realized.

5 Tips on Working with an Anxious Child

Anxiety. Mood disorder. Special Needs. It’s all fine within your own household, you see we learn to deal with our children in a way that works for them. Society, on the other hand, has zero tolerance for people who don’t fit their mold of what they think to be the norm. I am at the point where I am about sick of being stared at every single time my child is having a difficult day due to either a medication change or simply just having an off day. When my son has an off day, it’s unlike my other two children because he has a mood disorder and anxiety; this makes an off day for him closer to the end of the world mentality. It’s normal for him, it’s not so normal for others. With that being said, there are simple ways to work with a child who has anxiety, and yes people, anxiety is a real disorder that sometimes keeps people from going outside of their house because it’s too painful to go outside of their comfort zone.

I was that person. I have anxiety and every day, even at age 32, it’s still a struggle to get out and mingle with society without having first prepped my brain for it. I have to literally talk myself into going out in public some days and while it’s become my norm at 32 years of age, it wasn’t always my norm. Talking yourself into being part of society when you suffer from major anxiety takes a lot of strength and determination as well as motivation, all three things my seven year old may have but not with a true understanding of how he works best. With that being said I decided to create this list of ways to work with an anxious child …. to help you work with an anxious child at a level that makes sense for the child and will help them blossom in time.

5 Tips to Work with Anxious Children

  1. Be Firm, Yet Understanding – Remind your child that you understand and feel for what he/she is going through, allow their feelings to be validated but be firm in your tone, not stern, so that the child realizes “this person means business” but doesn’t feel more anxious & overwhelmed with the demands from said adult.
  2. Encourage but Do not Force – As my son’s counselor told me, “there is a fine line between encouraging and forcing”. It’s vitally important for the growth of an anxious child to encourage them to continue on in life as is their norm without the anxiety attack. Do not allow anxiety to take over your child, but also don’t drag them kicking and screaming if encouragement doesn’t work. It’s not the end of the world if anxiety has overcome your child to the point that he/she doesn’t want to partake in a certain situation and forcing will only increase anxious feelings. Try again next time.
  3. Don’t Use Logic with an Irrational Thought Pattern – Anxiety is a completely irrational fear of society or situations, therefore you cannot try to use logic or rational reasoning with a child who is having an anxiety attack. They are in a different place where, in their own mind, their fear in this moment makes sense to them. 
  4. Listen to The Child Speak – This is a very important tip, you should listen to an anxious child speak fully. Allow the child to explain to you exactly what they are thinking and feeling during their anxiety attack. This helps two things; it helps you understand what is going on inside of their head so you can better assist them in moving forward and it helps them get whatever they are feeling off of their mind allowing them to have a better chance at overcoming this anxiety attack.
  5. Prepare The Child for What’s to Come – Anxious children really like to know what is going to happen next, most times children will automatically assume that x,y,z is going to happen. When x.y,z doesn’t happen in that order or doesn’t happen at all, then they are bound to have an anxiety attack. Anxious children like to have a routine and a schedule, while they are adaptable to changes in their routines, they must be prepared for those changes. Do your best to prepare an anxious child for their “what’s next” on the agenda, so as to avoid a full blown anxiety attack.

 If you follow the 5 Tips on Working with an Anxious child above, I firmly believe that you will be on your way to greener pastures with your anxious child.

“Image courtesy of cooldesign/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Anxiety – The Irrational Fear of Society and Situations

After trying to pinpoint exactly why my son is being sent to the school nurse almost on a regular this school year, it dawned on me that maybe it has more to do with the teaching style of his current teacher than to do with his anxiety issues. You see, my son is having medication issues. Being diagnosed with mood disorder – NOS and anxiety – NOS, means he’s a mess if his medications are not properly dosed. I have personal experience with both a mood disorder because of my sister and anxiety because of myself. Put both mood disorder and anxiety together, well it’s a fun bowl of daily challenges when parenting and teaching a child.

Raising a kid with anxiety

I noticed that my son has been calling me in the middle of the day lately, which is great that his school nurse allows him to do so as a way to make him feel more at peace while at school. Allowing my anxious boy to call his Mama mid day to make him realize that Mama is only a phone call away and that he is okay at school, means the world to me. With that being said, sending my anxious boy out of the classroom is not necessarily helping him progress in any way. During shower time the other night, while I was helping my son rinse off with the shower head, I had a conversation with him. 

I wanted to know what is going on at school, why my son is always being in the nurses office and what he feels about his current teacher. The end result is that I gathered his current teacher is not as experienced as his prior year teachers and so in turn sends a child who has special needs out of the classroom rather than adapting to realize a slight change in methods can really help calm my son down. My son informed me that in the prior two years of school his teachers would allow him to color for a bit, as a way to assist in calming an anxiety attack, but this teacher just sends him to the nurse where he does his school work.

Keep in mind, I know this is a seven year old’s interpretation of things but he’s pretty good at relaying things and I’m pretty good at interpreting the semi-full story with what he says, even if it’s not 100% aligned with what he is telling me. 

 Raising a bipolar and anxiety child

It has been an awakening to realize that my son has a teacher who is young and not as experienced as his prior years teachers. While my sons teacher may be an amazing person and I think she’s nice, it isn’t a great fit for my son. My son doesn’t need special attention, after all giving him too much special attention would not encourage his normal childhood growth, but on occasion when his anxiety flares up he may need to just color a bit to calm his nerves. Sending my son out of the classroom is becoming some sort of a set back for my son and it’s not helping him grow socially nor emotionally.

I get that while my son isn’t medicated properly, his mental health issues become worse, but as a school teacher one would think you can be slightly adaptable. Not every child is a textbook child, each child learns in a different way, each child has special needs of their own and every child deserves compassion, love and encouragement. Sending my child to the nurses office is only showing him that the teacher washes her hands of him, over anxiety? Are you joking?

It upsets me to watch my son be dealt with in this way and I am prepared to communicate with those who have worked with my son in prior years to allow him to blossom in a school setting. Hopefully communication and a meeting of some sort will assist in getting my son in the right direction so that I no longer have to hear of kids telling me my son cries all of the time, or my son does this all of the time or that. My son is dealing with peer issues now because he is being singled out, not intentionally I presume, and that is the biggest concern that his counselor and I had when we began a mood disorder treatment; we didn’t want his mood disorder and anxiety to hinder him from developing bonds with classmates or being labeled as a troubled youth by the school.

A mother and her two sons

Having a mental health disorder does not make someone bad. Anxiety is not that difficult to understand, it’s simply an irrational fear. I would assume that a teacher, above all, would have more compassion for anxiety because many kids get that without having a major disorder because school is a whole different environment than their home.

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