Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And this was one of the GOOD ones!

Tackled the always enjoyable task of taking a picture for our annual holiday cards... This was one of the GOOD ones of our littlest girlie! My father was a professional photographer (now retired to take care of the girls - thanks, Dad!) and when my older daughter was young, we used to call her the "One Take Kid" -- you could set up a shot, take the picture, and almost always be assured that it came out great the first time! My dad would humor me and take picture after picture just to make sure that he got a good one, and usually, he could have stopped after the first one - she was great!

Well, no two kids are alike, and as much as my older daughter loves to ham it up for the camera, her sister HATES to have her picture taken! (I believe that she expressed her feelings quite well in the picture above...)

She has just plunged head first into her job of being a two-year-old! And she is VERY good at it... Maybe next year's holiday picture will be easier... Or maybe we'll have to try an action shot and catch our little one in motion!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ideas for Helping to Relieve a Child's Worries

Sorry for the long absence -- obviously, from my last post you can tell we've been going through some stuff over here, but the good news is that we are doing better!

This popped up pretty much out of nowhere for us, and took us completely off guard. I think the best advice that I can give to anyone dealing with something like this with your own child, is to ask a lot of questions and talk to anyone that you can -- pediatrician, school counselor, other doctors, etc. We've gotten lots of advice on things to do to help our daughter cope with her worries and fears, and we've also come up with a few things on our own. Here are some ideas that may work for you, whether your child's fears / worries are big or small:

- Create a "worry box" out of an empty tissue or some other type of small box. Let your child decorate it, if that makes it more fun for them. When your child starts worrying about things, have them write down their worries and throw them away in the worry box in an effort to get the worries off their mind.

- If your child seems to be worrying all throughout the day, set a "worry time" of the day, where you can sit down with your child and listen to all of their worries or fears at that time -- this helps so they are not thinking about them all day.

- Another thing that has been helpful is having some signs or symbols that represent "safety" -- especially if your child is having bad dreams. For example, since I had already established "Baby Hugs" bear as a sign that Mommy was there, it was easy for me to reinforce the symbolism of the bear with my girl, and remind her that the bear was from Mommy and would take care of her while she is sleeping. My father even remembers (way back!) when he was about my girl's age and he would have nightmares, but he had a special teddy bear that he felt protected him. You could also get your child (or make one with them!) a "dream catcher" and talk to your child about what it's job is, and help them hang it over their bed.

- And finally, a big thing -- diversion and distraction! Try to help take your child's mind off of the "bad stuff" by switching subjects and reminding them of the great stuff that is going on. I think that has helped a lot in our situation -- this a one of our favorite times of year -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and then my girl's birthday. Not to mention that we have snow where we are, so she's very excited about that. Keep reinforcing all of the great stuff and keep your child's mind busy with happy thoughts so there is not so much room for the worries and fears. And a GREAT bedtime distraction that we have been practicing, is as my girl is in bed trying to go to sleep, she counts -- she starts at 1 and counts in her head until she falls asleep. (She thinks she counted to infinity last night...)

These have all been great things that have worked for us, and there is certainly no harm in trying them, but by all means, if you have concerns about your child having excessive fears or worries - consult your doctor for more advice!

What ideas can you share for helping to alleviate a child's worries?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coping with a Child's Fear & Anxiety

We have been going through a difficult time here at our house. About three weeks ago, my older daughter saw something that was very upsetting to her, and that has sent her spiralling into a state of perpetual fear and anxiety.

It started innocently enough -- my stepmother sent over the latest "People" magazine that she had read (as she does almost weekly) and it was sitting out somewhere in the house, waiting to be read. Usually there is some celebrity on the cover, but that week, there was a picture of the little girl from Florida who is missing, presumed dead, and her mother is a "person of interest" in the case. The little girl is about the same age as my girl, and apparently my girl saw and read the front cover of the magazine. She never mentioned it at first, but right around that time things started to bother her. One afternoon she wanted to watch a "Little House on the Prairie" episode and then all of a sudden she thought she remembered someone coughing up blood in it (that didn't really happen in the episode), and she started having a bit of an anxiety attack about it. The days leading up to Halloween were very difficult -- normally she loves to watch all of the Halloween movies on the Disney Channel, but this year they seemed to scare her. Her anxiety increases the closer she gets to bedtime. Lately, most nights during dinner she decides that she is going to have a nightmare, and more often than not, she does.

There are countless other examples of how fearful and anxious she has become, and I wrote out a long list and made an appointment with our doctor to talk to him about what has been going on. He was not terribly concerned and said he felt that she's a very smart girl and "is able to articulate her feelings extremely well" and that's why we know so much about how she is feeling. Hmm... In his defense, he did preface that with "Counseling is not my forte." Clearly. I followed up with a call to the school counselor who I found to be much more helpful. She stated that it is not unusual for kids my daughter's age to go through a phase like this. They are able to "connect the dots" so to speak, and seeing that magazine cover seems to have triggered something in her, where no matter how many times we try to reassure her that nothing like that will ever happen to her, she is incapable of being rational about her fear and anxiety. Every day there is something different that pops up and is upsetting to our girl, but right now we are taking it day-by-day and trying to patient and supportive. (Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my strong suits?) Tonight we read the Veggie Tales book, "Where is God When I am Scared?"

I have been kicking myself for weeks over her seeing that magazine, although truly, she could have seen it at the end the check out line in the grocery store. I thought I was very observant and aware of what is "out there" that may be harmful to my children, but this experience has shown me that you just can't anticipate everything, no matter how hard you try.

Have you ever gone through something like this with one of your children? What did you find to be helpful?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

The polls are closed and it looks like we have a new president! I found myself to be more wrapped up in this election, than I have in previous years - possibly because of the historical significance of having either the first African-American president in US history, or the first female vice-president in US history. Or possibly because I'm the mother of two young children and I am more aware of the state of our country and the issues that we face.

My girls both got to take part in the electoral process tonight -- my littlest one went with Grandpa when he took my grandmother to vote (apparently the voting booth was quite crowded with all 3 of them in there!). And my husband took our 7-year-old with him tonight after he picked her up from Girl Scouts. She was excited to help Daddy vote, and equally excited to get an "I voted today" sticker to wear home. I think her Webkinz Koala was also excited about getting her own voting sticker at the polls tonight! My girl's 2nd grade class read a Scholastic News paper about the election, comparing both of the candidates stances on some of the tougher issues that didn't come out in any of the debates -- did you know that McCain's favorite food is Mexican, and that his favorite children's book is King Arthur? Or that Obama's favorite food is chili and his favorite children's book is Harry Potter (my girl would have voted for him on that alone!)? As she went to sleep tonight she made us promise that we would tell her first thing tomorrow who the new president is.

Regardless of which party you are affiliated with, or how you voted, tonight is a historic night for our country. The best part to me, is that my girls have no idea about the historical significance of the election of our new president - I think that speaks volumes about how far our country has come, and hopefully how far we will go in the future. May God bless America!