Riley has always been a sensitive sort of kid. Doesn’t like loud noises, seems particularly overwhelmed by pain, is picky about food to the point where it’s really not even remotely funny and/or something I can just make him deal with.

He gets anxious about things, too. Not, say, the looming specter of death, which you’d think would be a creepy thing for a five-year-old to think about yet he’s the one who’s reminded me on more than one occasion that while I like to think our cat just ran away to a Cat Spa of some kind, SHE PROBABLY GOTS DEAD, MOM.

No, he tends to get spun up about potentially negative scenarios, and can’t let them go. Like, he hates balloons because they’re just floating there…full of the the horrible potential to pop. When will it pop, in a loud and startling fashion? No one knows. It might not, after all. But it might.

With very few exceptions, he can’t watch movies all the way through. If the music starts getting dramatic and it seems something even mildly scary is going to happen—I’m talking rated-G scary—he has to leave the room. He can’t stand the suspense.

There are plenty of examples, but essentially, I feel like I can picture what is happening in his mind: the idea of a bad outcome is lodged there, and he can’t find his way around it. It takes over until it’s nearly all he can think about. The foreign food item I’ve placed on his plate is so overwhelming with the probability that it tastes bad, he not only can’t bring himself to try it, he can’t even handle it sitting there.

I imagine he’ll eventually grow out of some of these quirks in the same way he eventually stopped referring to his thumb as a “shum” (oh! I miss the shum!), but of course I have moments when I am worried he will not. I worry (ironically!) that he will spend too much time worrying. That instead of being open to new experiences, he will be mired in What Ifs.

I read a book called Freeing Your Child from Anxiety that had a decent metaphor for anxiety, and I talked with Riley about it. “Can you imagine a dog,” I told him, “That’s living in a house and when someone knocks at the door it just goes crazy, it barks and barks and barks because it’s all freaked out?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Like that dog across the street.” (He’s terrified of that dog.) (It’s a nasty little Chihuahua that I would dearly love to drop kick.)

“Yeah. And the dog is scared because it thinks there’s a bad guy at the door. But guess who’s really there? It’s just a nice mailman, and he’s bringing the mail.”

“Is there a present in the mail?”

“Uh. Well sure. Maybe. Anyway, so you know how you sometimes get worried about stuff, even when Mommy and Daddy say you don’t need to worry? That’s your brain being like that dog. Barking because it’s imagining something bad happening.”

We talked more about the dog and how he could try telling his own dog (his anxiety dog, oh god, I know, you’re like where is this going) to sit when he starts getting spun up.

And you know, it actually sort of works sometimes. Once when we were watching a kids’ show and the music got all dun dun DUNNNN I saw him get up and pace the room a bit, murmuring sit, dog, sit! under his breath.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t, and he can’t deal, and instead of being patient or even understanding, I snap at him. My own dog is a snarly asshole who thinks shameful things like don’t be such a chicken and goddamn it why don’t you trust me when I tell you there’s nothing to be scared of.

I want to help him to not be held back by fears, but it’s true I also secretly want him to be brave and adventurous and willing to confront that which intimidates him. It can be very difficult to pick apart where that line is between helping a child overcome a challenge, and wanting to…I don’t know, push them into a different personality, like you’re trying to put them into an ill-sized coat.

It seems to me that some of the most difficult things to help your child with are the things you dislike about yourself. Because raising a kid shouldn’t be about getting another chance at your own life, but sometimes, down deep in the unlit areas, it can feel that way.

We want our kids to be happy and we want to help them not have broken places and we ourselves are broken and not always happy and it feels like an impossibly enormous responsibility, this task of shepherding a child into the person they will grow to be. I am not qualified, my dog barks. I am so fucking bad at this! Sit, I say, with no conviction.

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Kristine
Kristine
11 years ago

Man oh man, my inner dog is a snarly asshole too!!! I am currently reading the book you mention in the (vain?) hope that I can get my 8-yr old son back into his room at night. He’s been sleeping in a sleeping bag on my side of the bed since mid-December. He is terrified of being alone in the house, won’t even go upstairs by himself. Just started recently. Otherwise totally normal and imagines himself as a tough ninja-in-training. I told him, ninjas don’t sleep with mom and dad! Was not a powerful enough argument to get him out!

erin
11 years ago

This is so fantastically thought-through, it made me stop dead in my tracks. You know, I snap worst at my children when I fear they’re doing whatever-it-is as a result of my failure as a parent. I hate that part of me.

You have really helped me out here. It’s instant clarity on something that should have been clear long ago. But thank you.

Amy Ritchie
Amy Ritchie
11 years ago

“We want our kids to be happy and we want to help them not have broken places and we ourselves are broken and not always happy and it feels like an impossibly enormous responsibility, this task of shepherding a child into the person they will grow to be.”

Thanks, Linda. I’m crying now. But, really – thank you.

Ang
Ang
11 years ago

Love this post! A book that really helped me was The Highly Sensitive Child – my 9 year old fits this description to a T and after reading it, I realized I do too. There’s a checklist of sensitive traits – she has most of them and I do too, just some different ones than she does.

We are just in the past year watching some movies that most kids watched 5 years earlier. While watching Star Wars, Episode 1, she was sobbing when Anakin would maybe never see his mom again – and her slightly younger, non-sensitive sister says “is this a sad part?” Totally different kids!

Karen
Karen
11 years ago

ditto on the Highly Sensitive Child….
AND
my sister has found the following book very very helpful with her 5 year old….
http://www.amazon.com/What-When-You-Worry-Much/dp/1591473144

Joanne
11 years ago

I have many thoughts about this. I think sometimes I get freaked out about my kids and how they are because I think they are ALWAYS going to be like that. I think OMG how are they ever going to get a job, or have a girlfriend, or go to college, or whatever? Will they be picked on? Beat up? I can’t take it if they will be beat up! But then I try and think about every person that I know that I knew when they were kids and I think about how at one point, they were all SUPER obsessed with something, like animals or bad weather, and now they are all fine, like FINE.

The dog thing makes me think of the Under Toad in The World According to Garp. It’s an excellent start, maybe Riley will start to find his own ways to work with his anxiety, now that you’ve given him an example of what might make him feel better.

My last thought is that I think instead of telling your own personal dog to “sit” or “shut up”, that maybe it would work better to tell the dog “not now, I’ll get back to you later” and then just fuck that dog – leave him hanging. :)

melanie
melanie
11 years ago

My son is 5 (nearly 6) and is VERY similar…. right now he is fixated on weather, I mean he cant even be happy its getting warmer because “Mom its SPRING and you know what happens in spring MOM……TORNADOS!” I worry because he is so much like me, and I struggled with anxiety and I don’t want him to, but I Sure dont know the answer…..

Lori O
11 years ago

Amazingly put, again. My 3 1/2 year old is the same way and I struggle with the same parenting insecurities!!! So glad, after reading your post, and the other comments, that I am not alone with a “worry-full” child!

Sarah Lena
11 years ago

I just want to hug him so hard.

Jack was very much this way — still is, to a small degree. We couldn’t drive anywhere (and I mean, LITERALLY, every time we got in the car) without him warning us that we could all die in a car accident.

His mother is allergic to blueberries and it was YEARS before I could have them in the house without him freaking out about killing her.

But the good news is that he’s relaxed a bit. He knows the bad is still out there, but I like to think he looks at his now-old-ten-year-self and think, “Man, I’ve made it this far. Might make it yet.”

Jeanne
Jeanne
11 years ago

Can I get an AMEN?

My five year old son = very similar anxiety/ somewhat timid nature.

Teaching him to swim is taking roughly forever and every ounce of patience I have(and we’re nowhere in the vicinity of anything resembling swimming).

TODAY I hit the damn alarm button on my key fob and the car started to honk. After sobbing hysterically for a few minutes longer than you’d think it warranted… he’s decided we must sell the car because WHAT IF THAT EVER HAPPENS AGAIN???

Would you like to hear about the night our smoke detectors (all of the little interconnected bastards) went off intermittently from 8 pm to midnight? NO YOU WOULD NOT. He made me tell him the smoke detector would not go off every night for a year.

Oh and hello summer and my 2 favorite fears which also manifest in the form of recurring nightmares in addition to the actual experience… bees and thunderstorms.

Ditto with you on the movies – this one has gotten a bit better recently, but still, we aren’t hitting any movie theaters.

In the end, I’m with you, this is part of his personality… I try to talk him through it. And sometimes, like at 3 AM on Tuesday morning, I snap at him (Fisher! There are no thunderstorms in Vermont when it’s still cold. Go. To. Sleep.)

Also… he totally gets this from me. Goddammitalltohell.

Lori
Lori
11 years ago

Yes! My three-year-old has a lot of anxiety. Loud noises, overwhelming social situations, unknown situations, scary music or anticipation of frightening scenes in movies, etc. I get SO impatient and frustrated with her. But I’m exactly the same way. However, I want her to be better than me, more than me. I don’t want her to know the anxiety that wakes me in the middle of the night, my heart pounding in my ears. It’s a fine line between not making her feel ashamed of how her mind and body react to her world and teaching her how to overcome the anxiety. Sadly, this is something I still struggle with on a daily basis. Hopefully we can help each other.

Audrey
11 years ago

Thank you for this beautiful post. My 7 year old son struggles with anxiety as well. After seeking support, we made the terribly difficult decision to begin medication. He’s doing much better and our life is much calmer. Do I feel good about it? Hell, no. Nobody wants to use medication. But does he feel better? Hell, yes and that is more important.

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

Linda, the fact that you are aware that the things that bother you about Riley’s personality are really parts of your own personality that you might wish you could change makes you make you a wonderful parent. I feel the same way about some of my daughter’s quirks and have to work so hard to remind myself to just let her be herself. But you know, it’s kind of worked in a positive way for me. She has these quirks at 2 years old. Doesn’t really seem like enough time for me to have “made” her this way, so I know it’s just her innate personality. Knowing that somehow makes me feel better about my own quirks–there’s not something wrong with me–it’s just my personality. I may not like everything about it, but I cut myself some slack just knowing that’s how I am.

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

My oldest son went through an anxious phase at 5. He just started kindergarten and we had just had a baby so I didn’t know if that had anything to do with it. He was terrified to walk in parking lots because of the cars driving around. At the park if he lost sight of me for a second he would scream. He cried everyday at kindergarten drop off and refused to go outside for recess with the class. One day the school had a furnace burn out and it set off the fire alarm. He completely shut down, refused to walk and was just screaming. Luckily he went to the school that my mom worked at and so they were able to get my mom to help with him. We even went so far as to take him to a counselor. I don’t know how much good they did. He had about six sessions and by the end of the school year he had seemed to adjust finally. I think now he might have just outgrown it. He is now a happy a bright ten year old. Not overly anxious at all now.

Marje
Marje
11 years ago

“We want our kids to be happy and we want to help them not have broken places and we ourselves are broken and not always happy and it feels like an impossibly enormous responsibility, this task of shepherding a child into the person they will grow to be.”

Oh Linda…. this is SO true for me today. For different reasons than your own, but I am struggling with that same task.

Jenn Perryman
Jenn Perryman
11 years ago

I really needed this tonight. My own 4-year old is socially sensitive- to the point where looking at him sternly can bring him to tears. Unfortunately his best friend has figured this out and has enjoyed the power of making my son cry all week at school. I am in the position of trying to teach him how to cope with this- and I alternate between “my poor little bugaboo” and “snap the fuck out of it, dude.” Neither tactic works, hello.

So tonight I talked to him about ducks and how they are so handy in the water that it just rolls off their backs. I told him to say “quack quack” to his friend next time he gets pushed to his limit, and envision the mean words, mean looks just rolling off of him like water. We’ll see if it works. He may need therapy for my “help” later.

Helen
11 years ago

Thank you for writing this. My 5 year old daughter is a worrier and socially very very sensitive. On the plus side, she no longer screams at gloves, hairdryers, vacuum cleaners or lawnmowers, so I guess we’ve come a long way. Our first trip to the movies to see Tangled ended with screams and nightmares, while my 3 year old barely blinked. She shakes physically when she doesn’t know what will happen in a book or movie or situation. She freaks out if things don’t go according to plan. I worry so much for her in K next year, with her friends who are not sensitive and not hyperaware of everything that could or has gone wrong, ever. But mainly I worry about how can I help her when I’m 36 and I don’t know yet how I can help me. She sees me crying at a stupid advert on tearing up when we talk about growing up- how can I get frustrated for her for being sensitive? Apple, tree, oh look you’ve fallen right next to each other.

Emily
Emily
11 years ago

Cam is the same way – we have one video where a lion roars loudly (wait, I’m sorry, the lion in this video actually only YAWNS, but does he believe me? no way), and it totally tripped him out, and after telling me about 50 times, “The lion was LOUD mama!”, he now insists we skip that part every single time. And we have some videos of him (he loves to watch himself) where he falls down or falls off a chair – and when it gets to that part, he has to leave the room for a second. And the one song at library story-time where the alligator goes SNAP!, has pretty much prevented us from going back there for more story-times. And let’s not mention the haircut. And going to the doctor now, is pure torture – no physical exams by a stranger thank you very much. And the list goes on. I have thus far attributed it to him being and ‘extra-sensitive’ boy and normal for this age and the fact that he inherited some of my shyness. We’ll see how we progress over the years. Glad you’re doing it first so I can pick your brain down the line!

Lori
Lori
11 years ago

Great post.

Nicole
11 years ago

I saw a few similar comments but I wanted to add my encouragement as well for a possible visit to a therapist. When I had to talk to someone about my daughter’s problem, I was surprised to see that I got so much out of it- lots of techniques and advice and just general encouragement about how it should play out in a positive way. I felt great about making the decision to go, even though it was probably less than 8 meetings over 3 months. My daughter also reacted to the therapist differently than she would respond to me in the exact same situations. She seemed to really listen to the therapist and trust her, which helped calm some of her worries.
Good luck. It definitely is something that kids grow out of, but I know how hard it is to watch your kid struggling.

Shann
Shann
11 years ago

I have an 8 year old that’s the same – still can’t get through Nemo! My sister suggested he put his hands over his ears in the scary parts – works wonders!

Cheers
Shann

Kym
Kym
11 years ago

Your writing is so beautiful and raw and honest.
I have an anxious kid too and have had so many of the same thoughts and feelings. You put it into words perfectly.
Thanks!

Claire
11 years ago

Oh man, we have the same thing going on. I feel so ashamed for telling my son he’s a pansy because he’s worried about so many pointless things. I am glad you wrote this post; the metaphors really got to me. :)

Annabelle
Annabelle
11 years ago

“Because raising a kid shouldn’t be about getting another chance at your own life, but sometimes, down deep in the unlit areas, it can feel that way.”

Yes, indeed.

Heather
11 years ago

See, this is why I read this blog. You put voice to what so many of us are dealing with but maybe don’t have the guts to admit. Thanks again for being so spot on…

Sherry
Sherry
11 years ago

You just described me, and you also described my 11 year old son. I too (even at 35 years old) have to leave the room when suspense music happens. In fact, one of my most vivid memories is hiding behind the couch when Little House on the Prairie was on, because Laura did something bad, and Pa was going to have to lick her. (beat, not, um…gross, never mind).

So. Coping strategies. In some ways, I learned to just live with the crazy brain, and acknowledge that I have a higher need for security than other people. With my son, it was preventing him from doing fun things like ride a bike, etc. This sounds terrible, but I have learned that when he balks at something scary, I push him until he cries, then leave him be and let him sort it out. It sounds much worse when I type it out, but it’s kind of a tough love thing. I dunno. Shutting up now.

M.A.
M.A.
11 years ago

L — I was an anxious kid. I also hate balloons. I hate Champagne bottles (opening) for the same reason. I was (and am) very sensitive about all kinds of stuff — animal shows on TV, movies (walked out of many a movie in my time), real life situations. My parents always sheltered me from bad stuff — and I’m glad they did. At 51 I’ve learned there are things in life that are ugly and terrible, and I can deal with it, but I don’t *have* to be insensitive to it. I think Riley is a great youngster – I’ve enjoyed “watching” him grow up through your marvelous blog. He will be fine, and you are a fine parent. Look at all the people who read you and learn from you. Keep writing… and keep parenting. You are an awesome Mom.

Anne
Anne
11 years ago

Oh, your post resonates with me so much…I have two daughters, one aged 4.5 and the other 21 months. I love them both to death, but I get so frustrated sometimes because my older one is shy and timid (not pathologically so, just about one standard deviation below the norm). She is so shy she even takes time to warm up to her preschool teacher each day, whom she likes and whom she has seen five days a week for the past year. I finally told her that she needed to respond somehow when people greet her (instead of hiding her face against my leg), because it was rude not to, so now we compromise and she waves hello, silently.

My younger daughter, on the other hand, casually calls out “Hi!” to everyone we pass on the street.

I am much more like my younger one in this particular regard (my older one got her dad’s genes here), and I get SO ANNOYED by her constant clinginess and timidity around people. (Also by the picky-eater thing, although Thank God she is FINALLY starting to eat some vegetables without it becoming an Epic Battle each night). I try not to let my annoyance show because, I mean, God, I KNOW she is not doing it on purpose, and she has so many other beautiful, wonderful traits. But, even when I’m not showing it, I feel guilty for wishing so fervently that she was different in this respect, and I feel ashamed that I like my younger one more in this one way.

Part of the slimy underbelly of parenting, I suppose…

Mandy
Mandy
11 years ago

My son is 6.5 and is the same way, always has been. Except his fear of helium-filled balloons is what if it gets away and floats up up up OMG! I have that same book, too!

And you know, he has outgrown a lot of the anxiety, especially in the last year. But I know he will probably always be extra sensitive, to an extent. And that’s okay. I realize as I watch my son that I was much the same way as a child–scared of loud noises, scared of being overwhelmed, having things out of my control, etc. And I think building confidence in myself over the years was the key, and the support of my parents not pushing me to do what I didn’t want to do.

Mandy
Mandy
11 years ago

Also wanted to say that we got my son “Is a Worry Worrying You” and he really likes it. http://www.amazon.com/Worry-Worrying-You-Ferida-Wolff/dp/1933718056/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302196024&sr=1-1

adequatemom
11 years ago

What an awesome post. I like the dog analogy, and think it’s awesome that it works sometimes. Nothing works all the time, so give yourself a break.

I’ll share my parenting worry with you. My daughter is 3 and she is pretty high-strung: not anxious, but when she doesn’t get what she wants (or it doesn’t happen fast enough), WOE! Collapsing weeping sobbing wailing fits of drama that sometimes last wayyyy too long. My rule is that before we discuss anything, we both need to be calm. Sometimes, I’m patient enough to help her calm down. Then I worry that I’m rewarding her tantrums with positive attention. Other times, I insist she go to her room until she can calm herself down. Then I worry I’m teaching her that emotions are private, some thing to be ashamed of.

Yeah, parenting is a mindfuck. Hang in, I think you’re doing a great job.

tanya
tanya
11 years ago

I was totally at the mercy of my fears as a kid (and mostly now as a grownup I’ve gotten a hold of it) but I remember my mom telling me I had a choice of how to act and react when I was young and me feeling like there was no way I possibly could choose in that situation. I think one thing that might have helped me back then was doing a practice with my mom, like sitting down and breathing with my eyes closed, calming down so I could reapproach the thing, whatever it was. It might not have made me able to totally deal with it, but I think it would’ve been a good practice to get into, something that I’ve later learned and has been of great effect.

Anyway, just a thought. You’re doing just fine.

MelV
MelV
11 years ago

Incredible post…again. You have such a clarity in how you describe what we are all in the middle of. Thank you.

Amanda
Amanda
11 years ago

My daughter is also an anxious soul. When she was 2 1/2 (she’s four now) she was having panic attacks, and it scared us. Our family is riddled with anxiety issues. We saw a child psychologist, and he was very helpful in explaining where it comes from in the brain, and tips and tactics we could use to help. We never brought her to meet him, but our description of her was enough to give us some great coping options. And to give us reassurance that how we had been handling it was appropriate.

Lana
Lana
11 years ago

oh my god. yes. just yes. thank you for (once again) putting my feelings into words for me perfectly.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

my cousin’s wife is apparently terrified of balloons and she’s 40. but it just strikes me as something that everyone around her has indulged for, well, 40 years. at some point, work through that shit, won’tcha? I mean, we all have fears, but if she’s so terrified of *balloons* that she has to avoid every single event/location that might have them, maybe it’s time to deal with that issue rather than amplifying it? I wonder what would have happened if it had been been addressed in the way you’re doing with Riley. A better outcome, I suspect.

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

You have just described my relationship with my own son, who is now 13. I have that book, too, as well as several others about anxious children. He was the same way as your son at that age, and while he has gotten somewhat better with his anxiety, he is very much that same little boy that is so sensitive it sometimes breaks my heart and sends my own worries about his future into overdrive. We just finished four weeks of once-weekly sessions with a child psychologist. While I tried to follow the self-help books and do by best to figure him out and change his thinking, I realized it was best left to someone other than myself. CBT is a wonderful thing, I only wish we had done it sooner.

Lisa M.
Lisa M.
11 years ago

I have something that might help, though maybe Riley is a little young for this approach.

I had a time in my life when I was living on soft money and my relationship was going off the rails. During this time, my temper was somewhat unmanageable; I bought a book on anger management, and reading about the normality of anger (everyone has things that make them angry, you are not alone, etc.) and the *usefulness* of anger (helps you recognize when someone is taking advantage of you) really helped me. There were also bits about recognizing triggers (and saying to yourself, “this thing usually makes me angry”) which then allows you to consciously interrupt your reaction; also, learning to analyze why you were getting angry, and then to channel your anger into constructive ways to deal with what was causing the anger in the first place. These strategies gave me back some control, when uncontrollable circumstances in my life were bringing me down.

It seems to me that some of these strategies might work with anxiety/fear. Fear is useful, keeps you from getting hurt, so it is normal and useful to feel fear. Also, there might be particular triggers, which it would be useful to recognize consciously, and then when he’s experiencing them, he can say to himself, “yeah, that’s that balloon thing again, I’ve felt this before.” Merely acknowledging it lessens its impact on you.

He sounds like a really sensitive little guy, awww.

Sara
11 years ago

I can’t thank you enough for posting this. Any honest parenting post is always appreciated, especially since my boys are very close in age to yours. You’re not alone, that’s for damn sure. Parenting seems so simple, yet so mindeffing complicated at the same time.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Yeah, “dearly love” to drop kick a small dog.
You are simply bad at life. You should not only not be a parent; you should not be allowed to exist.

Dana
11 years ago

Well, so unlike Anonymous above me, I thought this post was dead on. I nodded all the way through. Amen, sistah. I know precisely how you feel.

Kitty
Kitty
11 years ago

I recommend this book “Trauma-Proofing Your Kid” out: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/100542/trauma-proofing-your-kids-by-peter-a-levine-and-maggie-kline/9781556436994

The general idea is that trauma is inevitable and even seemingly trivial events like falling out of a crib or an operation can traumatize a child and then they begin to show all the symptoms you are seeing in your little guy. I’m reading this book now and I can see that it will really come in handy for handling future events. My son is 3 and he also has many of the traits you describe so I am going to try some role playing for a couple of past events that may have played a role and see if he reacts.

I’m actually doing similar “Somatic Experience” therapy for myself based on Peter Levine’s teaching and it is helping me tremendously in releasing the “charge” from past traumatic events in my life and teaching me to ground on a daily basis which is exactly what they recommend for our children. It totally works. Hope this helps.

sarah
sarah
11 years ago

What is it about parents that we are always looking for our kids to grow up faster? It’s like the knee-jerk reaction to push them. There has to be some sort of evolutionary reason for it, I mean beyond not wanting a 30 year old son living in my basement, because we all seem to have to calm ourselves down and remind ourselves that they’re just kids. I wish THAT was the knee-jerk response. Maybe I’ll just work on conditioning that response in myself… but he better not still be living at home at 30.

Allison
11 years ago

OH SNAP.

Jen B
Jen B
11 years ago

I heart you Linda!

[[Hey Anonymous? I mean, “Sugar” from the San Mateo County Office of Education? Your shitty comments come with an IP trail.]]

Christie
11 years ago

The perceived anonymous nature of the internet gives sad bullies the safety required to say such things. Telling someone they should not be allowed to exist? That’s just mean. Rule #1 of the internet: If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, it shouldn’t be said. Anonymous or not.

Faith
Faith
11 years ago

I think the difficulty with anxiety is that it’s often hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that’s bothering you. And I imagine that it would be even harder for a 5-year-old. You can see that the situation is overwhelming for him, but I wonder if he himself fully understands what he’s feeling. It may be that this is something Riley will have to deal with his entire life – I certainly hope not, but it’s a possibility. At the very least, if you can help give him coping strategies at this young age, just like you have with the dog analogy (which is GENIUS, by the way), then he’ll hopefully be better able to deal with it as he gets older.

Rhonda
11 years ago

I have 4 children, now grown, 2 of whom suffered tremendous anxiety, and I have been that way most of my life.

It’s sounds like you are taking the right steps to help Riley conquer his fears.

I think that in a child(or an adult), lack of control over aspects of your life manifests itself in anxiety and worry.

The more control you cede to Riley over issues like food, clothing, bedtime – the less anxious he will be. Of course, choice can be manufactured (would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt), but as he gets older he will trust that he has the power to control his environment.

Sunny
Sunny
11 years ago

Bet San Mateo County of Education would love to know they have a complete asshole wasting time and taxpayer money. Sugar can fuck off and die in a fire.