Do you ever wonder why your child keeps doing the same things no matter how much discipline you throw at him? Do you struggle with getting your partner to see that your child isn’t trying to be difficult? If these are some of your struggles you have to dive into Dr. Ross Greene’s work!
Raising an anxious child is hard. I mean really hard. I get it, I have three of them. I also get it because anxious kids and exhausted parents come into my office day after day. I hear the same stories over and over. I see the same struggles rearing its ugly head.
You are not alone.
Anxiety and sensory issues are like peanut butter and Jelly. They exist alone, but where you find one, you’ll often find the other. Unfortunately, anxiety can increase sensory issues and sensory issues can increase anxiety. This can feel like a never-ending vicious cycle.
So how are you supposed to handle your child’s sensory struggles? What’s the best approach? What are the best resources? What are the best sensory toys? We spend most of our time talking about anxiety, but today it is all about the sensory processing struggles!
The stress of school is finally over! No more homework battles, no more school refusal! Just pure relaxation. But summer isn’t always as easy as it seems for kids with anxiety and OCD.
When a child is not busy with after school activities, projects and huge assignments, their mind is available for other things. And more often than not those “other things” aren’t pretty. New anxiety themes pop up. New compulsions surface. Old What Ifs take hold. When there are no distractions anxiety and OCD can take center stage. So how can you save their summer and your sanity?
You like quiet. You like calm. You like a slow pace. Enter parenthood. Screaming children. Play dates. Birthday parties. Constant interaction. This can be beyond overwhelming for an introverted parent. But what if that was just the beginning? What if that little bundle of joy was an extroverted bundle of friendliness? What if your introverted self gave birth to a foreign species. A species you know nothing about?
There is nothing worse than watching your child starve to death. It can creep up slowly or happen overnight. Meals are missed. Favorite foods are no longer favored. Plate after plate, meal after meal goes untouched. Perhaps initially you chalk it up to “picky eating” but then you realize it is something much more. Welcome to the world of Avoidant/ Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, also known as ARFID.
One of the most frustrating aspects of raising an anxious child is the lack of understanding other people have for your struggles. Insensitive comments, criticisms or “helpful” advice can leave you feeling inadequate and insecure. Bringing up an anxious child takes a unique set of skills and a completely different parenting style.
Parenting is a hard enough gig. But when you add your own anxiety to the mix it can be an uphill battle. I spend much of my time talking to you about how to help your kids with anxiety and OCD, but what about you? As parents we often put our needs last. This is unfortunate because parenting will take every ounce of your strength and of your sanity. You will need to be at your best. So how can you do that? By taking care of yourself and your needs – including your own anxiety. Parenting with anxiety can feel like parenting with one arm tied behind your back.
Your child is bombarded with “bad thoughts.” They are asking you bizarre questions that are stopping you dead in your tracks. What if I hurt myself? What if I hurt you? What if I set the house on fire? What if I jump in front of a train? What if I left a scratch on your car? They riddle every conversation with apologies and more questions. They are consumed with worry. They don’t want to have these thoughts. They don’t want to hurt themselves or other people. But they can’t make these thoughts stop. These thoughts scare you. These thoughts scare them. Welcome to the world of Harm OCD. Harm OCD is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
“How did it go?” You ask your child after yet another therapy session. “Fine.” Your child flatly replies. It’s been months and it is always the same thing. No reaction after therapy. No behavioral changes at home. Is your child’s therapy working? Are there goals? What is going on in there?
You’ve identified your child’s issue. They have anxiety. Maybe they have OCD. You’ve soaked up every article, book and podcast on the topic. You painstakingly located a therapist to work with your child. Everything is in place – except your child’s motivation. Why doesn’t your child want to work on their issues? How do you get them motivated to crush anxiety or OCD?
One of the hardest decisions for a parent is whether or not to medicate a child with anxiety or OCD. For many parents who aren’t raising a child with anxiety or OCD this may be a no brainer. But when your child is paralyzed with fear, unable to eat, unable to go to school, is scrubbing their hands until they bleed – you might have a different perspective on medicating kids with anxiety or OCD.
Your daughter comes home from school and half her eyebrows are gone. You are giving your son a bath and you notice a patch of hair missing from the back of his head. Your teenager picks at her skin until she creates scabs. This behavior can freak parents out! I know – it freaked me out. When scabs started showing up on my daughter’s forehead I didn’t know what to think. Why does she keep getting scabs in that one area? Then one day I saw her little hand digging deep into her skin. My heart sank. “What?”She said staring at me with big eyes. “I like to pick.” She said simply. She is not alone. Many of us have a child who pulls hair or picks skin. And many of us feel desperate to make them stop.
I’m embarrassed. I’m weird. I’m crazy. These are statements I hear every week from kids with OCD. Kids who think they are alone. Kids who don’t understand their disorder. Kids who don’t realize that there are kids all over the world, just like them. Chris Baier understands this struggle all too well. When his daughter Vanessa was just nine she changed from a happy-go-lucky child to a child filled with worries and compulsions. Vanessa also felt alone. She felt like no one else understood what she was going through.