Originally Posted by littlehawksmom
I would love to hear more about your responsibility charts and the other ways you organize your life. I feel this is where we need help. The days where I have 'engineered' the day's routine are by far the best days with less freak outs. However, this does not come easily to me and has been a real lesson for me (Thank you, ds, for all your lessons).
My dd just thrives
on organization and structure, and I
am really bad
at organization and structure.
What we've got going on now is this: each child has a packet of schedules (they love them). There's a morning schedule that applies to school days, one morning schedule for Saturdays because they have karate on Saturday mornings. There is a schedule for each afternoon Monday through Friday. Each schedule is in a clear plastic sheet protector, and they are all held together by a little ring (like a binder ring). They use wipe-off markers to check off things as they go. We use timers for certain things, as it helps them keep track and manage their time. These schedules are not in any way tied to rewards or consequences, just a means of organization (though, in the morning everything needs to be done before playing so that we get out to school on time, without struggle, and without forgetting major things).
It looks kind of like:
7:00 am downstairs:
7:20 eat breakfast
7:40 brush teeth 2 minutes
And so on. Afternoon schedules include play/relaxing time, snack, homework, play, chores, practice karate/instruments, play, help with dinner (or shower or set table depending on the day--the older two shower every other day, rotating), dinner, relax, get ready for bed.
Having schedules keeps me on track, keeps them on track, and gives them not only a visual cue of what needs to be done but enables us to ensure they have a good balance between play/downtime and Things That Need Doing. Keeping us in a predictable, solid routine has definitely been something I've needed to learn, and still need to work on. All 3 kids seem happier this way.
Originally Posted by littlehawksmom
As we do not have access to any professional help for us and ds, I would like to know if there are any things we could do at home to help ds manage anxiety (which for sure leads to him being unable to cope). We already do a lot of sensory activities and talking about emotions and reactions and try to do some play-type therapy (and this is helpful for ds, but very difficult for me for some reason).
I have found two books to be very helpful for helping dd with her anxiety: Freeing Your Child From Anxiety
by Tamar Chansky and What to Do When You Worry Too Much
by Dawn Huebner. Ime, important parts to managing anxiety are understanding anxiety (what it is and how it works), identifying anxiety in oneself (learning to be aware of it, knowing what to call it), and learning strategies for coping with it. Coping strategies for dd include not only ways of coping when she's anxious about something specific, but also learning ways of relaxing in general-of keeping herself relaxed, identifying bodily tension, taking care of herself. Both books have some very good information, and the What To Do...
book is geared toward kids with very kid-friendly explanations.
We found that it helped to teach dd some explicit relaxation skills, and to do them with her every day. Things like progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and releasing one muscle group at a time-just feet, for example, then legs...), belly breathing (breathing in slowly through the nose, expanding the belly outward, exhaling through the mouth), visualization. iTunes has some free visualizations for kids you can download-look for Patti Teel (Time out for Dreamers) and Meditation for Children and Teens by Stin Hansen.
I find that with dd, it helps to have one-on-one time that looks like this: she leads the play/activity, I ask no questions (unless it's about the activity we're engaging in) and definitely don't talk about any difficulties, and everything I say is positive. This is time that helps dd relax, helps us connect and build trust, and gives us something positive to focus on (which we have sorely needed at some points, when things have gotten really frustrating and negative). This is the closest thing to "play-type" therapy that we do.
Also, check out the Special Needs forum, I know there have been some great threads on anxiety there.