We all do many things without a conscious thought. Our heart beats. Our food is digested. Our breath goes in and then goes out. Our eyes lids go up and then they go down. Our bladder constantly fills. But what happens when your attention constantly goes to these automatic behaviors? Welcome to the torturous world of Sensorimotor OCD.
In this week’s AT Parenting Survival Podcast episode, I talk about why many of our kids with anxiety or OCD have the hardest time when they are us. And why it often has nothing to do with the parenting.
A young girl worries she might stick out her middle finger, so she goes around keeping her hands in tight fists. Another boy worries he’ll go to hell if he lies, so he can’t even answer a simple question. A teenager boy is fearful he is staring at his teacher’s breasts, so he looks at the floor the entire day. And the saddest part? No one knows these kids are even suffering. Not their parents, not their teachers, not their friends.
Do you suffer from some parental anxiety? Have you gotten more anxious as you’ve gotten older? Do you attribute it to the chaos and stress you experience raising kids with anxiety or OCD? Well, you might be missing one key culprit…hormones!
The kids are huddled in the corner of the room. It is dark. It is quiet. They are told not to talk. They are told to hide behind objects and lock the classroom door. Some kids are shaking. Some kids have wide eyes. This is not an emergency situation. These are lockdown drills.
We all see anxiety differently. We bring our own baggage, or own history and our own issues along for the ride. Often moms and dads see anxiety differently. Sometimes it can be the source of disagreements and hurt feelings. And sometimes it can open our eyes to a new way of looking at things. How often do we view child anxiety from a father’s perspective?
Bumpy socks, lumpy food, loud noises, large crowds, startling automatic toilet flushers… are just a few things that can completely overwhelm some of our anxious kids. But don’t make the mistake of putting them in the same category with all your child’s other anxiety issues.
You are learning how to be a parent from a very young age, even from toddlerhood. Seriously! Everything you see, every interaction you have, will impact how you parent your own children. This can be inspiring or daunting depending on what type of childhood you had. But regardless of whether it was good, bad or in between you get to decide how your childhood influences your parenting. This is especially true when you parent an anxious child.
When we ask our kids to face their fears, it can be like asking them to jump off a cliff. Swim with sharks. Jump out of an airplane. All of which I know I would never want to do. That is why offering good incentives is key when trying to get kids to work on anxiety or OCD.
The bickering, the fighting, the taunting and teasing. It is enough to drive a parent to the brink of insanity. Seriously! So how you are supposed to handle sibling fighting? Is there some magic fairy dust to make it all go away?
They dig their heels in. They refuse to go. They refuse to eat. They refuse to move. Oppositional behavior in a child with OCD or anxiety can be all consuming.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Anxiety or OCD can make you feel like you house has been hijacked. It can make you feel like your home is not your own. Having a child with anxiety or OCD can often mean, having a controlling child.
People will try to treat OCD with many different approaches. Treatment of OCD can include the use of talk therapy, play therapy, biofeedback or EMDR. But the truth of the matter is, OCD will not improve significantly without ERP, Exposure Response Prevention.
Have you ever wondered what your child with OCD is going through? What their life is like growing up with OCD?
I had the pleasure of talking to John Tessitore, the founder of the JCK Foundation. He was willing to get raw with me and share some personal details of what life was like growing up with thoughts he hid from the outside world.
Helping a Child with Selective Mutism Selective Mutism can hide behind labels like “shy” and often gets missed by parents, educators and even therapists. I had the pleasure of talking to Patsy Butterworth, a State Coordinator for Selective Mutism.org and a mom to a child with Selective Mutism. Patsy has been a huge advocate for her son through his journey. She now supports other parents, […]