I would like to think that these past few weeks have been wonderful – and for some of the time they have been – but sadly they have brought about their own set of frustration, concern, and disappointment. As a parent, you never want to see your child hurting or struggling, and that is what we have bore witness to; and as a result, my child’s anxiety resurfaced, causing his moods to sway like the pendulum on a clock. It has been dispiriting.
To cope with my own feelings of dismay with the circumstances surrounding my child’s angst, I chose to look back on – and share – a happier experience in our lives. I needed that reminder. I needed to reminisce on that very cherished moment in time because – after your life is threatened by breast cancer – you know on a deeper, more powerful level just how very, very precious those moments are. My way of expressing my frustration and concern – by spinning it into a positive – was misconstrued and not at all well-received by some. I am sorry if feelings were unintentionally injured – but – what about my own son’s feelings? Or those of mine and my husband’s? I find it rather troubling that – AT NO TIME – were our son’s or our own feelings taken into consideration.
All feelings set aside, my objective has been finding workable solutions to easing my son’s anxieties. Which leads me to a lovely discovery – a little book called Don’t Stress – How to Handle Life’s Little Problems, written by Helaine Becker. It is a children’s book that, quite truthfully, is a bit advanced for my 4yr old; however there are many usable and wonderful exercises within the book that are gentle reminders to parents, and lovely beginnings for little ones on how to handle stress and anxiety. I wanted to share a few of my favourites from Helaine Becker’s book that have helped my son [and me] on this path of peacefulness:
Progressive Relaxation: This is an easy exercise that you can do with your little one, and it’s a great way to feel more relaxed. Sit or lie comfortably together, and have your little one close his/her eyes. Talk your child through tensing one muscle tight, tight, tight, holding it tense for 5 seconds, and then releasing. Start with the foot, then continue tensing and relaxing different muscles throughout the body, moving from one section of the body to the next. Participate in the exercise with your little one, and when you have both progressed through all the muscles of the body, take a moment to reflect on how you both feel.
Breathe: When you take slow, deep breaths, it increases the amount of oxygen your cells receive, giving you more energy, stretching out the muscles in your chest, and massaging the organs in your abdomen. These deep, long breaths send an ‘all clear’ signal to your brain as well as to the muscles in your body, telling them everything is okay and that you can relax. So, when you or your child is feeling stressed and anxious remember to practise deep breathing to help in feeling calmer.
Count to Ten: When your little one is about to lose his/her cool, encourage your child to slowly count to ten. This mindful exercise may take some time to implement, but the purpose of it is to give your little one – or you – a mini time-out. Counting to ten allows the brain time to catch up with emotions, helping you and/or your child to feel calmer and possibly make better decisions.
Stretch: When you stretch, you are giving your muscles a mini-massage. Blood flows into them, making the muscles feel warm, loosening them up, as well as relaxing the muscle fibres. Stretching, while deep breathing, can help make the rest of you feel more relaxed too. So find some time before bedtime to implement a stretching routine – for yourself and your little one. You may both achieve a state of calm afterward; and it may also aide in a good night’s sleep.
Implementing these usable and child-friendly exercises has aided in our son’s anxiety as well as my own; but it does take time and patience as do most things worth exploring and achieving in life. Be patient with your child and with yourself. Parenting is not easy, and being a child is equally as hard. There will always be stress, worry, and anxiety, so be gentle to yourself and to your loved ones. Look out for your needs, your partner’s needs, and most importantly your child’s needs. Do not stress so much about what other people think. They do not walk in your shoes, nor have they lived the experiences you’ve had. Worry about the people who love you, because it is with them where your happiness resides.
Don’t Worry. Published by Crystal Joy Hall