Tips for anxiety - but not anxiety disorder? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been reading up on anxiety lately because ds is going through a spell where he's waking a lot at night.

He has all of the 'warning signs' of a child who's at risk for an anxiety disorder, BUT he doesn't have one. He's not great at talking about emotions, never remembers what woke him up. He's socially happy at school, able to separate easily from us both at school and Sunday school, able to tell us when he wants us to stay near. He has a lively imagination and entertains himself quite well. BUT he worries about things (stands in front of the elevator door if we're on it with his sister so she can't touch it and maybe hurt herself, still insists on holding my hand in crossing the street, is anxious about thunder and loud noises).

I'm on my third anxiety book now, and none of the stuff they talk about there applies, because ds doesn't have a disorder, just a tendency in that direction. (And I'm slightly irked by many of these books anyway because the covert message seems to be that it's the parents fault. If you were less demanding/less distant/less controlling/less anxious as a parent, your kid would be fine.)

What can I do to help him develop good coping skills for his tendencies and hopefully keep him from getting an anxiety disorder? We spend lots of time with him, read a variety of books, stay in the room as he falls asleep, go into his room if he wakes at night and either stay until he falls asleep or often dh will just lay down with him.

Or am I just worryinngn needlessly? (Gee, I wonder where ds gets those tendencies...)

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#2 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 05:33 PM
 
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I am not belittling anything that you have said about your DS's issues but I'm having trouble understanding from what you have written why you have concerns. I'm sure there is more there than you have shared so can you talk a little more about what you are seeing that concerns you? Not remembering why he wakes up, standing in front of the elevator so his sister won't herself and being afraid of thunder are issues that I have and I don't think of them as anxiety issues, per se.
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#3 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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I'm not sure I get it. He doesn't have an anxiety disorder but he seems to have sort of an anxious personality? If that's the case I'm thinking books about anxiety may not be that helpful. If you haven't already read it, the book The Optimistic Child may be a helpful read for you but that isn't specifically about anxiety disorders. Also, I would continue to talk about emotions and model for him that people can make mistakes, ask for help, etc.
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#4 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 07:05 PM
 
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The Highly Sensitive Child, maybe? I read the Highly Sensitive Person for myself, and it was helpful in terms of disscussing sensitivity to potential threats, being quick to go into an "alert" state, etc..

The positive side of being a worrier is that anxious people are very good at planning, at noticing important details, etc. We have very excellent foresight. It might be helpful to develop those skills with him, and by focusing on the positive.
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#5 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, maybe I've been reading too much on anxiety, but if you go down the lists that the anxiety books give of children who are anxious and/or prone to anxiety disorder, he's got almost every single characteristic. (sorry don't have the books in front of me, so I can't give the list).

The thing that's bothering me now is the nightmares at night-- and his inability to tell us what's wrong. He also has some 'performance' anxiety -- he will not talk in group situations at all. And he's not wanting to be in rooms by himself. If he watches TV, someone has to be in the basement with him, for example.

I've read the highly sensitive child, and he definitey is. Somewhere I've got The Optimistic child and I need to find it and read it -- maybe that's the route I need to go.

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#6 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 07:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Or am I just worryinngn needlessly? (Gee, I wonder where ds gets those tendencies...)
This might be closer to the truth than you realize. If your ds is sensitive and prone to being anxious he might be feeding off of you. Kids, in general, are great barometers of anxiety in the family -- sensitive kids are just that much more touchy. Honestly, I think that my sensitive, introverted, anxious ds can be in a different room and still pick up my vibes! I'm not saying that you are doing anything wrong, but I can completely see where this can happen. I'm guilty of this, too.

I think the Optimistic Child sounds like a good change of pace. Get away from the "disordered" books. I might have to pick up a copy of that up for myself!

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#7 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 08:36 PM
 
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haven't read "the optimistic child", but i just checked out and read most of "help for worried kids" by Last and thought it had some good practical tips for anxious kids. i don't know if all or any of them would work for your guy, but it might be worth a look. i need to go back and take notes from it before i return it, but i'm not too excited about that (don't send me back to school ).

my dd1 is highly sensitive/high strung/anxious temperament/drama queen -- whatever you want to call it. she's not quite to the realm of disorder, but she's super attached and just now dealing with learning how to separate at school. everything becomes a crisis. "aaaaaahhh, mommeeeeee, there's a commercial on my show!" that was the latest one, 5 minutes ago, complete with tears. why could we not ramp up to the tears? why do we have to start with them?? ehhhhhhh...i digress.

have you read "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? i really liked it for my sensitive one. don't like the title so much -- it's not really about power struggles. it's more about different temperament types and how to mesh them within a family. definitely worth checking out at the library.

hth

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#8 of 9 Old 02-27-2007, 08:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Well, maybe I've been reading too much on anxiety, but if you go down the lists that the anxiety books give of children who are anxious and/or prone to anxiety disorder, he's got almost every single characteristic. (sorry don't have the books in front of me, so I can't give the list).

The thing that's bothering me now is the nightmares at night-- and his inability to tell us what's wrong. He also has some 'performance' anxiety -- he will not talk in group situations at all. And he's not wanting to be in rooms by himself. If he watches TV, someone has to be in the basement with him, for example.
It is so hard to say online. Obviously this stuff is all a matter of degree. Trouble sleeping, unable to be alone in a room, yes those are classic anxiety symptoms. My suggestion would to be low key, provide reassurance, don't push, but also be really careful not to live your life around the anxiety too much. I get you are bugged if the books seem to blame the parents and I'm trying not to do that, I'm only saying that really nice, well intentioned, sensitive parents can unintentionally reinforce anxiety if they get to the point where they are living the rules too much. It can send the message there is actually something to be worried about. So, I'd say keep an eye on it. If someone needs to have the light on to go to sleep, okay in my book. If someone needs everyone to have the light on, not so much.

As far as night time, Mary Kurchinka has a book out about sleep now and that might be worth reading. Also, we found it helped our son a lot to have more information about dreams. Dreams are a story in your head. You can step in and change it. If he wakes upset can he talk about how he can change the dream - so if the monsters are chasing him he can throw banana peels on the floor. The idea that it is a story and you can change it was a really powerful one for our son. Also, he can have someone powerful that he likes (Batman or whatever) be on his side and help him in the dreams.

Even if your son isn't great talking about his feelings now I'd keep working on building that feelings vocabulary - you can model by talking about stuff that happened to you and using specific words, frustrated, sad, etc.
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#9 of 9 Old 02-28-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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Since you describe me as a child I had to chime in. My advice is to not push. Do not force the issue, do not make a big deal out of it, just go with it as needed. My memories of childhood are my parents forcing me to sleep in the dark, forcing me on fast carnival rides, laughing (yes literally) laughing at my fears of lightning and thunder. I have dealt with anxiety like this my whole life. Nothing that can be pinpointed on any real reasons why except having parents who were emotionally children did not help. As to your son if it helps him to hold your hand crossing streets why not? If he needs to stand in a certain place in the elevator then why not? If it makes him feel more secure over time he will relax more. If you make a big deal about it he will pick up on that. If he cannot be alone in the basement to watch tv that is his choice and you go on with what you are doing. Don't make a big deal about it and let him figure out what to do about it to make himself more comfortable and work it out.
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