We’ve called him the Gentle Giant since he was very small. A sensitive fella from the beginning of his life, he suffered from colic and cried for hours on end during the first 3 months of his life. If you called my son a sensitive child you would absolutely be right.
For years I’ve fretted and worried about raising such a sensitive child. How will he cope with sadness? How will he cope with bullies? Will he stand up for himself? Will he stand up for others? Will his emotions and sensitivities hold him back from exploring? Just how badly is he going to get run over in this all-too-often cruel world?
My job as his mother is to love and honour the person he is. However, with so many ideas of “how boys should act”, I often tried to push him into doing things that other boys like to do. “Go run! Go play! Go rough-house”, I’d say. “Go get dirty! Roll around! Just relax and don’t worry”. The problem is, those expectations or instructions made my little man worry more because that just isn’t the person he is. And that…my lovely readers, is the place I’ve gone wrong.
I tried to pigeon-hole my son into a place he didn’t belong. And that…well, that makes a young fella worry.
And worry, he does. Worry. There it is. The curse of the sensitive child. Recently, my little man has started to worry. And worry hard. He’s had panic attacks so bad that he nearly throws up, he yells and cries and tells me “he screws everything up for everyone”. Do you want to know how hard it is to hear your child explain to you that he’s not good enough, the everything he does is wrong, that he wrecks everything? It’s heartbreaking.
Punch you in the gut – rip your heart out – step on it – burn it – then throw it in the trash heartbreaking.
But, I’m learning. This is worry. Otherwise known as anxiety. And, I’m learning how I can help.
I watched my brother go through some of this growing up. A smaller boy, a little nerdy, a little quirky, artistic…and awesome. So, when I saw my little man start to show signs of worry, I asked my brother what he would have needed. He said the following “I would have loved to go to a counsellor, so do that. And Linds…just let him sit with you. Don’t talk. Just be. Put your arm around him and let him know that he’s him and that’s all he needs to be”.
Okay brother, I hear you.
When my little man starts to worry, I hold him now. I wrap an arm around him and I tell him I love him. That’s all I do. I hold my son. I love my son. We’ve also worked with a wonderful school counsellor and she’s given us some amazing tools to help him with his anxieties. I will write about those at a later date, I promise.
But for this post, Mamas, I just wanted you to know that anxiety is part of a person. It’s how we deal with it or teach our children to deal with it that counts. I’ve learned I cannot force my child to be something he’s not. And I certainly cannot make my child feel something he doesn’t or un-feel something he does. The best thing I can do is hold him and let him be him.
He allows me to be me and for that I am grateful. I am learning to show him the same respect. I respect the person he is. I respect the emotions he has. I respect the reaction he has to certain situations. I may not understand them. But I will certainly put my arm around him, put my head on top of his and quietly whisper “Your feelings are here. And so am I. I love you”
All this to say, Mamas…we’re not perfect. We’re going to screw up. But I encourage you to take a step back from your expectations of your child and listen to who he or she really is. I will learn from my child’s anxiety and we will both be better humans for it. Stop, listen and let them feel. That is what I’ve learned from dealing with my child’s anxiety.
Stop. Listen. Let them feel.