Anyway, it appears that they use a reward system to help fight anxiety. It got me to thinking. I was taking the approach that this was out of Kamden's control. What if we turned this around and taught him that he has some control over this?
This was after we made a decision, a hard one, to have him miss his best buddy's birthday party because it involved seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He knew it would haunt him at bedtime, the bad guys, the fighting, etc. It wasn't an easy decision but we thought if we could avoid adding to his anxiety, it was the right decision.
So what did he worry about that night instead? That his friend would be upset that he didn't come to the party. *facepalm*
(Exhibit A: found on my phone - goofball)
I may or many not have lost my s--t at that point. My conclusion was that he was going to worry no matter what. I mean, sometimes he is just anxious about being anxious, for goodness sake.
That's it, we have to take the power away from the anxiety. He had to take control. So what better way to have a kid take control than by providing a reward? We must use a language that speaks to them. That in itself is a sad state of affairs but that's another post. I may write it too....helicopter parenting is failing us. I work with the adults it creates. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
We are now over two weeks into the reward. It's $5 a night. His anxiety always hits at bedtime complete with dizziness and a look on his face, not unlike the one below, no wait that his deadpan look, not quite the same.
He gets $5 for every night he can fight the anxiety and go to sleep without excessive worry. The "worry" involves coming into our room after we have all gone to bed upset about the anxiety du jour - examples include but are not limited to: he has a major health problem (the same night he ran for two hours straight at football practice....um no, you are fine), something will happen to Mom and Dad (we are good dude, no worries), scary noises in his room (house shifting, car doors outside etc), school (pick random worry and insert here) etc.... lather, rinse, repeat.
(we ran a 5 km race a bit back, at least we ran some of it)
It was something new every night. Oh yeah, then there was my epic parenting fail. EPIC. It's possible this entire anxiety thing could be blamed on me.
I shouldn't even write about it here. Maybe. Oh what the hell. It's sort of funny. In a I suck as a mom kind of way.
This summer, we lost Jay's dad. It was sudden and it hit Kamden pretty hard. He hasn't dealt with death yet in his young life except when my cat died and my parents dog which I think we can all agree is not quite the same thing.
One day, he came down while I was working to relay something that happened that he couldn't figure out. He was putting the stuffed animals he sleeps with back into his bed before he made it one morning. He grabbed one, leaving the other at the end of the bed. When he turned back around to grab the last one, it was gone.
He found it in his hamper.
I had no explanation and so without thinking (me? speak without thinking? So out of character for me) I said oh maybe Granddaddy was messing with you.
I mean, I watch Long Island Medium, it could totally happen, right? And it would so be something in character for Jay's dad. One of his favourite words was buffoonery after all.
(Exhibit B - buffoonery defined)
So yeah. Not a good thing to tell a 10 year old boy, in case you were wondering. About a month later, he came to in tears me as I was falling asleep saying maybe it's Granddaddy making all the scary noises he hears when he's trying to fall asleep. That was my first clue about the epic parenting fail. Yes, I am slow on the uptake.
After much reassurance and the use of the word buffoonery several times, I convinced him that his granddaddy would NEVER try to scare him. EVER.
Mess with him to make him laugh, absolutely, but the noises are just the house, or possibly his overactive imagination or its paranormal activity that I am too old to hear or something.... Oops. I went too far again, didn't I? Kidding, I didn't say the part about the paranormal activity. This time.
The are several
- I didn't cause the anxiety with my fail (it was already gaining its own momentum) but I did exasperate it exponentially
- he does have control or at least some control because we are well over two weeks without a late night of excessive worry. He is always a bit apprehensive at bedtime but we each have to think of at least two good things that make us happy before I hug him goodnight. That gives him something else to focus on. Take that, "worry".
- he takes some awesome pictures that make me smile daily. See Exhibit A through
I might be married to a human giraffe.
Now that's something to worry about.
(I take his anxiety very seriously. I may have made up this system of dealing with it but it seems to be working for now. I am also saving for future therapy costs as Plan B.)