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Another a-ha moment

I think I’m figuring out what’s going on with Ryley…..why the behavior has been something to be desired, why the potty accidents have been occurring again, why the shirt-chewing has been happening…….and now why the sleep/night terrors and walking have started up again. I think I have a stress-ball on my hands. I think he’s really anxious…things have changed in his little life and he’s having a hard time dealing with it. Some of the changes have been really positive, but he still has a hard time dealing with things. I had my a-ha moment last night when Ryley was wandering around the upstairs, crying, and still asleep. We’ve been through this before. He had a six month session of sleep terrors a couple of years ago. They’ve started up again. So last night, as I followed him around, calmly leading him back to his room and his bed, it dawned on me…this is all from anxiety. And then I felt horrible for him.

Ryley does not handle change well, any change. We’ve learned the countdown thing for leaving places or going to places. We’ve learned to prepare him well ahead of time of big things/changes coming up. Sometimes, he does really well. He’s gotten so much better about coming and going. Other changes, however, still stress him out. Sad to think of a five year old as stressed, but I can think of no better way to describe it. He just gets in a weird place. Now, I’ve quit my job so I’m home with them, he goes to school only in the mornings instead of all day, he doesn’t get a nap/rest in the afternoon, we’ve travelled together once and then mom and dad left them at home for a weekend, we’re getting ready to go on vacation, and trying to mentally/emotionally/logistically prepare him for kindergarten which starts in just over two months. This may be just too much for him right now. How do I comfort him? How do I give him security? I can’t keep his life static just to keep him from going to THIS PLACE he’s been in for the past few weeks. I can’t always protect him from change. But I haven’t quite figured out how to help him deal with change better than he does. I have figured out that while I cannot let the poor behavior go on, I can be more lenient and understanding about the other ways he exhibits his anxiety. I just wish with all my heart I could keep him from hurt, keep him from being afraid and keep him from being so anxious about things that are good, even if scary. This Fall could be REALLY interesting.

8 thoughts on “Another a-ha moment

  1. Oh Donna, Poor Ryley. I understand a bit of his anxiety as I began having panic attacks in grade school. I don’t remember having night terrors, but I am familiar with “this place” you speak of. I wish I had some advice, I didn’t figure out how to stop the anxiety until I was in college. But you’re doing great, being there for him, beingh is mommy. Change is hard on everyone, even when it’s good change. I know as a mommy you would do anything to help him feel better, to relax. In his heart he knows this as well. Thinking of you both and sending big big hugs. Love,
    Sam

  2. Donna, I’m sorry that your sweet boy is having such anxiety. I’m happy though that you’ve been able to pinpoint its catalyst. Ian was, and still is at times, the same way (he’s getting better.. maturity definitely helps). He has trouble transitioning. His sleep used to be disrupted, but not so much now. He still gets very whiney, cries easily, will act out. Routine altering things will really bring this on in him. When we go out of town, visiting family or vacation, he struggles for the first few days trying to find “his” comfort zone. He needs routine.. he thrives on it’s predictability. Is that always good.. no because some times life changes. It was at about Ryley’s age that we started talking to Ian about how things change and how that makes us feel. For example.. going to Grandma’s house is exciting, but we still have to follow certain rules, and that Mommy and Daddy still have the same expectations. We talk about good choices, and bad choices. We do *alot* of the same strategies you’ve mentioned.. the counting down to signal time to end. We also tell him when he goes to bed the night before.. what our plans are for the next day, *if* we know. Kirk and I are much better at recognizing this with him now than we were in years passed. We would get to Grandma’s and wonder why he was being so “bad”. Causing so much trouble. Shouldn’t he be happy.. we’re at Grandmas? Once we realized what was happening.. it has become much better. It also helps that we can talk to him about his feelings, and he can express them. I will lay out what to expect when going places.. even here at home. For example… before we head into Target.. I’ll say.. “We’re not buying any treats today… so don’t ask”. That way he knows where we stand.. and my “no” answer doesn’t come as a shock. It works remarkably well.. he usually doesn’t even ask any more. Trust me it took time for me to remember to do this.. and it took time for him to realize I meant it when I said it. Did he test? Absolutely!! There were times when he would still melt down.. but they have become much less often. He just had one about a week ago. That was the first in a very long time. Guess what? School just ended, and there’s much excitement about summer. A new routine for him. But as I said.. it hasn’t happened in a long time.. and he got the message when we got home.. that it wasn’t okay to act that way.. He was in his room for a long time, and in the house the rest of the day. As I said.. it seems to be getting better with age. I’m sure it has helped that Kirk and I can recognize it now.. and can help him to work through it. Now in Pa.. it usually only takes one reminder.. and he’s better. That first day.. he finds his groove and then he’s okay. (I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself for our trip there next month!!) I think there’s something to birth order here too. My other three adapt so much easier!! You’re a great Mommy!!
    Love and Hugs!
    Karri

  3. Hi Donna, Poor Ryley but wow, you are some mommy to be able to pick up on this problem and I think you’re right on! Change can be very difficult for little ones. Those night terrors would frighten me something awful! I wish I had some advice for you here but I’m no professional and I think a dr. would be much better off offering advice. But you are doing such a great job Donna! I’m really proud of you. Big Hugs to you and huge hugs to Mr. Ryley,
    Donna

  4. Hi Donna
    I don’t have any advice for you–just wanted to tell you I care. I will be paying close attention to what works for you incase we ever venture down this road with Domonique. Good luck, I hope Ryley settles into the summer routine soon. Karen

  5. Donna, It looks like you’re doing everything you can to help Ryley transition (counting down, warnings for end of activities, etc). You’re doing a fantastic job even when you have days where you might want to pull your hair out! I hope Ryley will have better nights to come. Hang in there,
    Jaclyn

  6. I am so glad you’ve solved the puzzle. At least you know, and can help him with those stressors. You’re a great mom. I’m sorry for his anxiety… but so relieved to hear you’ve figured it out.
    These kids need a manual! *hugs* Hoping fall isn’t rough!
    Darcy

  7. Donna, I *totally* agree! You rock as a Mom! Many parents would have overlooked this …. blamed their child … found another reason for the problem. You *noticed* the reason … and you are resolved to do what you can to treat the *cause* of his sometimes frustrating behavior. I don’t think there is a clear cut answer … Or a magical cure … But I do know … that since you’ve picked up on his problems with anxiety …. You can better prepare him, comfort him, and attend to what his needs are within the present … and in the future. HUGS! Melissa

  8. I can’t imagine what he is going through. I wish I had something that will make it better. I hope that the both of you can find away to get through this. Angi “Phoenix’s Mom”

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