Found this on the young children/anxiety link that is mentioned in the previous post. As both Evan and Ryan are introverts, this is really a good reminder for me. Some of these I do well and others (i.e. #4 and #7) I need to really work on. Know or love any introverts? Or are you an introvert? What would you add to this list?
Screams filled the air at three in the morning. Was the house on fire? Was Evan’s leg caught in the crib? I ran into his room and found him sitting up, tearing rolling down his face. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he was scared of the spiders and bees in his room. The next 30-45 minutes were spent trying to come up with ways to help Evan manage his fear without him getting out of sleeping in his crib. Evan’s solutions to the problem were to sleep with Mom and Dad in their bed (not an option) or to sleep on the couch (maybe an option but not a great one). Although those options may work in other families, for us, we knew that if we utilized either of those solutions we were on a slippery slope. Evan, being the smart boy that he is, would connect that being scared or just saying he’s scared could result in him getting to sleep elsewhere. We have gone through A LOT in the past to get him to sleep through the night in his crib. So here I was in the middle of the night, trying to come up with something that would comfort Evan and help him manage his anxiety, but that would not have unintended consequences for our family. I also felt pressured to find a quick solution because both Makenna and Ryan are light sleepers and close by. My brain was so tired and yet here I was wearily trying to figure out how to help Evan manage fear. Fear and anxiety can be difficult for adults to cope with, much less a toddler. How could I concretely address the abstract, but very real, concept and experience of fear with Evan?
Evan’s been fearful in the past. He has a love-hate relationship with teddy bears. He is fascinated by them but also scared of them. In the past he had a small, decorative teddy bear sitting on the shelf in his room. That bear needed to be put in the closet because it scared Evan. Eventually that wasn’t enough. He feared the bear was going to come out of the closet and get him. So the bear was moved down to our basement. Evan still brings that bear up in conversation on a daily basis. He worries that it will come upstairs. Sometimes he seems to try using being scared to get out of consequences (i.e. the bear is brought up when Evan is headed to a timeout), but other times you can really sense a true fear in him.
Last night I “put” the spiders and bees in the closet and closed the doors. That worked for a few minutes, but then he “saw” more again. We “smashed” the spiders/bees (quickly drawn on paper) with books. We also talked about how Mom got rid of all of them, how Lambie or Zoe could help protect him, we prayed, we talked about how big Evan was compared to the little bees and spiders…nothing worked long term. Ryan tag-teamed with me and eventually Evan was able to fall back asleep with his door wide open, our door wide open, ahhhhh, peace at last, until we heard Makenna start crying! We’ll admit, we had been soooo close to letting him sleep down on the couch because it would have calmed him down quickly and kept Makenna asleep, but in the end, I was thankful that we held firm.
This morning I was still mulling over the situation as I knew that the spiders and bees issue would not be a one-time thing. I felt so powerless and inept last night, oh, how humbling parenting is! Then I remembered that one of my friend’s from graduate school had posted a link on Facebook about young children’s anxiety. I had meant to read it because of Evan’s bears, but now I had even more motivation to do so. I was able to locate it and I’m so thankful for resources like this. The article normalizes what Evan’s going through, but also gives practical ways of how to handle anxiety with toddlers. Here’s the link: http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/2012/05/09/the-age-of-fear-young-children-and-anxiety/
Sure enough, as nap time neared, Evan started to vocalize his fear of the spiders and bees again. This time I tried one of the interventions from the article above (the nightmare box) and it worked, way better than my other ideas last night. It also worked a second time–when it was time for Evan to go to bed for the night. We’ll see what the rest of the evening holds!
All this to say that I want to be a purposeful parent, but boy, is it a commitment! I wanted sleep so bad last night, I just wanted some relief from the crying, and I wanted Evan to feel safe too. I admit, I seriously considered just letting him sleep where he wanted, but the other side of me rebelled at the idea and fought to figure out a longer lasting, more purposeful, one.
Today I was listening to a sermon (the Mother’s Day Sermon at Vanguard by Tosha Williams) which focused on Hebrews 12. I’ve never liked Hebrews 12 (I know, that’s immature of me!). For those of you who don’t have a recollection or reaction when I say that reference, it’s the chapter in Hebrews that talks about God disciplining those He loves. Yep. Such a fun passage. And when I think of discipline, I automatically think of punishment and consequences. That’s not part of my relationship with God that I like to focus on.
5 And have you completely forgotten this word of
encouragement that addresses you as a father
addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make
light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose
heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord
disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens
everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating
you as his children. For what children are not
disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not
disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline
—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and
daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had
human fathers who disciplined us and we respected
them for it. How much more should we submit to the
Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us
for a little while as they thought best; but God
disciplines us for our good, in order that we may
share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems
pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on,
however, it produces a harvest of righteousness
and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I felt like there was a reason I heard this sermon today when I was thinking about (and attempting I guess) purposeful parenting. Tosha explained what the word “discipline” meant in the original language. She shared that it should not just be seen as punishment but rather as teaching and training. Training like Olympic trainers train, so it’s not necessarily easy, but everything that is done is with the goal or end in mind. That gave me better understanding of this passage. It doesn’t take the pain away but helps the discipline seem so much more purposeful, not just punishment or a consequence!
This brought me back to thinking so much about parenting in a purposeful way. It too is not about punishing, the goal is not just to stop certain behaviors, but is all about teaching and training. It’s about equipping your child with the skills he or she needs, helping your child learn how to love who he was made to be, love others, have respect and self-control, and manage his emotions in a healthy way…taking those teachable moments and using them. Unfortunately some of those moments end up being in the middle of the night.
And maybe I can work on my natural reaction to these verses if I start to look at them in a slightly different way. The Message version says it this way:
“So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you
forgotten how good parents treat children, and
that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the
child he loves that he disciplines; the child
he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never
drop out. He’s treating you as dear children.
This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s
training, the normal experience of children.
Only irresponsible parents leave children to
fend for themselves. Would you prefer an
irresponsible God? We respect our own parents
for training and not spoiling us, so why not
embrace God’s training so we can truly live?
While we were children, our parents did what
seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best
for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At
the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always
feels like it’s going against the grain. Later,
of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the
well-trained who find themselves mature in their
relationship with God.”
So although Evan gets our comfort and attention when he’s scared, he may not like that he doesn’t get “his way”. It may not be exactly what he thinks is best in the situation, but hopefully we’re teaching him how to manage difficult emotions little by little. I hope that deep down he knows that his parents love him and aren’t doing it to be selfish, spiteful, or malicious. And I need to have that same perspective regarding the “training” I’m undergoing in my life…that it’s God’s “purposeful parenting” of me!
I believe I found this recipe in “Real Simple.” Since Ryan doesn’t like curry, it’ll be a sandwich I’ll make for myself for weekday lunches. I changed up the meat selection*. DELICIOUS!
Curried Turkey/Chicken Pita
Total Time: 10 Minutes Serves: 2
In a medium bowl, mix:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 cups shredded turkey (* or small pieces of rotisserie chicken)
½ cup halved grapes
2 sliced celery stalks
1 sliced scallion
2 pieces of pita bread (sliced in half to make “pockets”)
Refrigerate salad. When ready to eat, spoon it into pita pockets. (I like to toast my pita pockets so they’re crunchy).