Thursday, September 26, 2013

Community Education Service

In my city, there is an organization called The Family and Community Resource Centre that runs out of the Alberta Children's Hospital.  One of the things that the FCRC offers to Calgarians is the Community Education Service.  The following is taken from their website:

The Community Education Service (CES) provides parents/caregivers and other community members with opportunities to access free, evidence-informed education sessions and resource materials to address child, youth, and family health and mental health needs.

I have taken a couple of the sessions they have presented and I have been really impressed with the amount of information they pass on to the public in an easy-to-understand way. 

Last night, I attended a session entitled "
Supporting Anxious Children and Teens: From Recognition to Response".  The presenter was thorough and her presentation was informative.  Unfortunately, all of the reading I have done about anxiety and child anxiety in the past year had me over-knowledged (yes, I know that's not a word) for this session and I didn't really learn anything (I should have believed the statement on the registration page that this would be a beginner level session for people with little to no knowledge of anxiety in children and teens).  That said, it was nice to know that I have been on the right track and I haven't wasted time straying from the way I "should" be understanding and coaching Eli through his anxiety.

If you are in the Calgary area, I totally recommend you sign up to receive emails from the Community Education Service.  They let you know about sessions that are available and coming up on a regular basis so that you can choose to attend those that interest you.  You must register to attend the sessions, but they are free of charge, and available to anyone. 


Visit their website here:  http://fcrc.albertahealthservices.ca/ces.php for more information.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tonight he prayed

Eli prayed at dinner today.  He thanked God for all the regular stuff he always thanks God for, but then he added on a couple more things.  He thanked God "for my brothers, even though they hurt me" and "for my anxiety because I know a lot more things now because of it."

I'm still fighting tears over his sweet grown up prayer. 

I am so proud of that boy.  So.  freaking.  PROUD.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Push

Twice today I had to push Eli into the school and close the door behind him.

Once this morning, once after lunch.

Both times, I had my hubby encouraging me to not go into the school with my boy; to just walk away and not look back.

This is tearing me up inside.  But I think it is becoming an act.

Eli has this special ability to pretend things.  He starts out pretending or playing around and before you know it, his pretending turns into real life.  Joking around about being angry very quickly turns into a full blown raging temper tantrum.  Hesitation about going to school turns into a meltdown.

He used to have stomachaches, headaches, random worries about gurgles and grumbles from his belly. 

He doesn't have those anymore.

He used to be pale, depressed, withdrawn from ALL areas of his life.

Now he chooses which days he wants to be anxious.  The first day of gymnastics, yes.  Sunday school this week, no.  Sunday school last week, yes.  Returning to school after lunch, almost always no.  Returning to school after lunch today,  yes.  Going to school in the mornings, almost always yes, but occasionally, no.

We make plans to help him, and he insists that he wants to do those things.  Then he decides that he is fine and he doesn't need to do those things.  Then minutes later, he changes his mind again.

It is exhausting me.

I want him to know that I care and that I am here for him.  But I don't want to be used.  I don't want to be played.  I feel like I am being played by my son.

I don't want my other children to suffer for attention.  I think my daughter might be suffering.  She has declared she doesn't like school "because it's too long," and when I asked her how her morning went, she said, incredulously, "me??" 

My oldest son mentioned that he is nervous at school and has brought up a few times that he doesn't want to go, but he knows he has to go anyway because he has responsibilities (he is a patroller).  Today he is on a field trip but still this morning asked if he could just stay home.

What is happening to my family?  I feel like we are crumbling.  I always thought that we were a smart, strong, bold, talented, organized, creative family.  But right now it is chaos around here.  I feel like I am scrambling to hold everyone and everything together.  I know I am strong enough, but I don't know about everyone else.  If only I could inject strength, faith and courage into each of them... 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Note to the teacher

On top of his difficulties actually getting to school, Eli has been having issues being at school.  Yesterday he told me that there is a boy in his class who has been tormenting him.  According to Eli, this boy tries to make him cry by kicking him and calling him names and accusing him of being a bully.  He steals the erasers and sharpeners from Eli's table group, and he refuses to give them back.

I asked my boy why he doesn't let the teacher know.

"Because then the teacher will just tell me to stop tattling," he says, with tears threatening to fall.

I could not convince him to tell the teacher or to let me write her an email, but he did agree to writing her a note about what has been going on.  In the end, he asked me to write the note, but I had him dictate it to me, and we added at the end that the reason Eli is letting her know this in a note and not just telling her is because he doesn't want the other student to overhear him talking about him to the teacher.

So, hopefully this will be cleared up soon.  Eli had trouble with this boy and his twin brother last school year, where the twins ganged up on him and when Eli's big bro said something to them about it, the twins' mom yelled at Eli and my other son for hurting her children.  Sooooo...I think he's a little sensitive to anything from either of these kids now.  It would be so wonderful if kids never lost their need to blurt out the absolute truth at all times, wouldn't it?

Anxiety Conversations with Eli

Up until this point, I have not named my anxious child.  I have decided to call him Eli for the purposes of this blog.  It is much easier to type a name than to continually try to find a grammatically correct way to indicate who I am talking about.

Here is a conversation we had today when I was sitting in his classroom this morning.

Eli:  So, are you going to the gym after this?

Me:  Yes.  I feel so much better when I exercise; not so tense and frustrated with you guys when you fight.  I bet you feel less anxious when you get lots of exercise too, right?

Eli:  Yeah, it makes my tummy hurt, but then it goes away.

We have had so many conversations about anxiety.  I know how it makes him feel, because he tells me flat-out.  No sugar-coating it from him.  The most memorable statements he has made more than once through this journey include, "I wish I was never born,"  "I wish I was dead," and "Why can't I just be normal?"

These statements scare me a little as we inch closer to the teenage years.  They scare me a lot.

Please, God, help us find some way to get past this before the teenage years hit. 

Books for anxious children

I did a bunch of searching online and in stores to find some books that I could share with my little guy about anxiety, especially separation and school anxiety.  I really wanted him to know that he isn't the only one in the world who feels this way, and that other people (characters) have felt the same way and been able to still do the things they were afraid of.  Yes, they are characters in books, but at the very least, I figured he would get some ideas of how to manage through the tougher times.

I thought I'd compile a list of books here; these are the ones that were available at my local library, and my son quite enjoyed them all.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Silly Billy by Anthony Brown

David and the Worry Beast:  Helping Children Cope with Anxiety by Anne Marie Guanci

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg (this one is a favourite!)

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

I Love You All Day Long by Fracesca Rusackas

I feel like there were more, but I can't find my list right now.  If anyone knows of any other great children's books to help kids understand their anxiety, please share the title with me and I will update this list.

Edited to include the following (thanks Meg!):


Worried Arthur by Joan Stimson

What makes me Happy? by Catherine Anholt

The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

I'm Worried - Your Emotions Series by Brian Moses

Why Do I feel Scared by Pat Thomas

Don't Panic Annika by Juliet Clare Bell

But Martin by June Counsel

Fly, Chick, Fly by Jeanne Willis

The Worry Monster by Emma Brownjohn

All kinds of Fears - When My Worries Get Too Big by Emma Brownjohn

Please Explain Anxiety to Me by Laurie Zelinger

What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hiding in my bed

My family is a disaster. 

I wish I could find something/someone to help us.

The constant fighting and negativity and mean words exhaust me.

That is all.