helping-your-anxious-childthrough-hard-seasons

Helping Your Anxious Child (And Friends!) Through Hard Seasons

As the new year begins, we have been dealing with high emotions-again! My daughter has some anxiety-I’ve talked about that before. One way it really affects her is during transitional periods and on special occasions(think holidays and birthdays.) I call these her “trigger filled” days; or days and weeks that everything and anything can trigger a meltdown and fit the size of Massachusetts.

As I know many foster and adoptive parents out there deal with this, or possibly biological parents who are raising children with anxiety, I wanted to share some of the things we do to help her through these seasons. As an adult with PTSD, a lot of these are things I use on myself as well; traumatized brains are the same over a large age gap, ya know?

I am so not a licensed therapist or doctor and please don’t think we have it all figured out-because we don’t. But I have been living this life in my brain for almost ten years and I will continue to mom it for another…well forever!

Here are some of the ways we try to make the hard seasons better.

helping-your-anxious-childthrough-hard-seasons

Avoidance and Distraction. During the two weeks that the school year ends and begins, the week surround Christmas and her birthday, I put on my kiddy gloves with Princess. We don’t let her get away with things necessarily, but I do take notice to approach it less intensely if something does come up. During those times, something as small as saying “It’s bed time” in the wrong way can trigger a full fledged meltdown. The battles are loud and exhausting; so I try my best to avoid them. If it’s something small, like she wants to take her shower after Monkey, I let it happen. Giving small allowances can change her entire day and in turn change the entire families day. I also use a lot more distractions during these times. It’s the time of year where I may stop her from getting emotional or distraught by offering a treat or a family hike or movie. I am one of those people who loves to let their child work through their emotions on their own…but triggering seasons are one of the times to not do that.

Preparation and Discussion(And possibly prayer). Oh man, this is life changing, y’all! We do this especially for Princess when it comes to changes in her life(moves, school year starting, camp, etc). For weeks before school starts, you will hear us talking about the fact that it’s coming; that life is changing in a few weeks. We discuss every part of it-how she will get there, what will happen after school, the basic schedule. If you know me you know I hate schedules. A lot. To the point where I dislike doing extra curricular activities because it makes me follow one. Instead of a schedule though, we go over the simple routine our lives will take most days. That way, she knows it’s coming when it does. W discuss how holidays will be spent(this helps with my Monkey’s special needs with structure as well!) and what our plans are for birthdays. And we pray. Princess has a beautiful little heart for Jesus and we spend time praying before days and changes, that it goes well and things work out. We also try to keep that door open, so if any feelings during the season come up, we can pray with her and Jesus then too.

img_2858-2

img_2868-2

img_2908-2

 

Acceptance. Here’s the thing-this might be something that is always hard on her. The beginning and end of the school year mostly because of her anxiety over not having a schedule and changing her days around. We hope that will get easier as time goes on. But the end of the school year is also very close to their placement day, which will always be a memory to her. Holidays are joyous and beautiful; but as an adopted child who knows her biological parents are out there, she may always deal with missing them on those days. Part of dealing with her anxiety and these seasons is accepting they are there and they may always be there. I want Christmas to be wonderful and beautiful and make it through the week without being told that she hates me…but right now, her big emotions in that little body of hers are still healing from the life before and comprehending this thing called life after. We as parents have to accept that. As she gets older, I will encourage her to find the good in these transition and holiday times. I will also continue to put in place guidelines that she should follow so it’s not a hard season on everyone. But I can’t take away her emotions, trauma or anxiety surrounding these times-I know, I’ve tried to do it with my own mental health stuff.

When it comes to children who are traumatized or struggle with anxiety, some times, days and seasons will be harder than others. Parents out there-remember this isn’t forever. Hold your babes through it and care for yourself as well! Plan some extra loving with friends, take an hour for yourself, give yourself grace for the times you don’t do it “perfectly”.

And for your friends, you can do these three things and help them as well! Offer them distractions when you know things are going to be hard-movies, dinners out, drinks on you. Discuss it if they need to-and pray for them and with them. Accept they will have these rough times and give them extra loving. As a woman who deals with PTSD and anxiety, I have so much respect and love for people who do those things for me through my hard seasons.

What would help you through your rough times?

img_1683

childhood sexual abuse

Sexual Abuse for Children

This article was originally written December 15th, 2015. While the time of year you may be reading it is not Christmas, this information is important all year round. It is updated periodically if I write or find another article that is helpful and relevant to it.

It’s Christmastime-what better time to talk about sexual abuse to children, right?
I know most people who are reading this are cringing right now. It’s not a topic that anyone is comfortable with, it’s something we tend to not want to talk about, and it’s hard. But facts are facts. Childhood sexual abuse is a dangerous and very real threat to your kids.
I can feel some of you shaking your heads. “Not in my house. Not in my family. We don’t associate with those kinds of people.

You’re wrong.

Sexual abuse can happen with any kind of people.

I know there is comfort to be found in the belief you know other adults well enough to be able to tell who is safe around your children and who is not. But numbers and statistics don’t lie. 3 out of 4 adolescents who are sexually abused know the perpetrator.
“I don’t have a teen yet, my child is younger and therefore less likely.” I wish that was true. But 34% of sexual abuse in kids happens to children who are under 9 years of age. And the younger the victim the higher the chances are they know the person who is victimizing them.
I don’t tell you this just to scare or frighten you or to ruin your Christmas spirit. I didn’t just think “Hey let’s throw these numbers out and make people have moments of doubt and fear all the days of the season.” I’m sharing this now because I do have some ways you can help protect your child and one is a big thing this time of year.


Talk to your child about their bodies. It’s never too young for your child to know the actual name of their body parts. They have vaginas and penises, not “hoo-hoos” and peeters. Maybe 4 is too young to begin actively explaining all the body part, but the basics are essential. Kids who know the proper terminology to their bodies are able to tell safe adults the exact places they have been touched or photographed. Your kids may get a kick out of telling their teachers they don’t have private parts, they have a penis and testicles(sorry teachers…), but it’s a method that has shown time and time again to help kids vocalize if they are abused.

Related reading: The Never Ending Sex Talk(Age appropriate discussions to have about your kids bodies)


Talk to your child about sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is hard to talk about, even amongst adults. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who have suffered from sexual abuse and rape, both in childhood and as an adult. One of my first memories of college is driving to pick up a friend from a party then bringing her to the ER after she disclosed what had happened at the party. I wish sexual abuse wasn’t as prevalent as it is in our society. I wish I didn’t look at my kids and know the chances of it happening to one of them everyday. But it is and they need to know what sexual abuse is, that it is never their fault, and ways to help protect themselves. And they need to know they can talk to myself or another trusted adult in their handful(explaining that is next!) if and when abuse happens. So talk young, talk often, and listen. This book is a great tool to open up discussion in younger children.(I’m not being compensated for sharing this-I truly just love it enough to share it with everyone!)
Create a safety handful. Help your child have a handful of people who they can talk to if someone is making them feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or in danger. Our kids handfuls include myself, my husband, our pastor, and various family members. Talk to these adults as well; explain to them to listen, to never doubt, and to try and stay as neutral as possible if your child discloses to them. I’ve vetoed people off my kids lists, not because I don’t trust them or because I think they would be negative towards one of my children, but because I honestly believe their reaction to something of this caliber would be upsetting and emotional. Which I understand fully. However an emotional and upset reaction from the first person you disclose to can turn a person off from talking about it for a very long time.


Teach your child that the only person who owns their body is them. I’m sure you were wondering when this would come back around to Christmas time…well here it is. Christmas season is a wonderful time to see people you and your kids haven’t seen for usually almost a full year. Adults are all about hugging and kissing the relatives they know and love; often kids are less enthused. Don’t make your kids hug people who are nearly strangers this holiday season. This article is a great one on seven reasons why you should not expect kids to hug someone because you want them to. Body ownership is important, even in kids as young as 2 years old. Teach them that they own their bodies and no one should ever be able to force them to do anything they don’t want with those bodies-even relatives. Obviously, this is within reason. If your child doesn’t want a medical procedure that is life saving, sometimes you have to force them. But hugging a relative they barely remember will not save their lives. It will send the wrong message about who is in control of their bodies.

Last, but maybe the most important, always listen and believe your child. I know it can be hard to hear your child say they were abused, especially when it is someone you thought you knew and loved. But I can promise you, it is 100% harder to be the one who was sexually abused and have to tell another about it. Listen to your children when they tell you, bring it to the people who it needs to brought to, and believe them.  Very few children fabricate sexual abuse encounters; it is far more likely they lie about it not happening than about it happening. Trust the children.

Have you talked about sexual abuse with your children? 

11426487_664811630319820_1249197444_n