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Update: One year later

It has been close to a year since I first started using The Anxiety-Free Child system to help my son overcome child anxiety, and I think it’s time for a brief update. After all, some of the point of conquering anxiety in children is that the problem doesn’t return two weeks later.

My son, who I call “Justin” on the main page of the blog, is showing a normal development for his age. The excessive shyness he exhibited has not come back, and while he is not the noisiest and most outspoken boy among his friends, he has no problem holding his own in play and at school.

I write this now because I had a parent/teacher conference last night, and I had decided to specifically ask Justin’s teacher if she thought that he had become more outgoing in the previous year. To my surprise, that was the first thing she said, before I could even ask! She said that it’s wonderful to see him opening up and becoming more boisterous, as she called it. She has been a teacher for many years and knows that boys are supposed to be a little unruly at times – it’s a part of who they are. It seems that it’s the very quiet ones she worries about and tries to help. She also said that Justin’s a very polite and nice boy who laughs a lot.
I wanted to hug her (and I did when the conference was over)!

What the teacher said confirms what we see at home, too – it takes nothing to make Justin laugh, and it’s not a nervous laugh, either. He just seems very “alive” now. The word I want to use is “free”.

But he’s still human
That doesn’t mean that he’s fearless. He’s still somewhat reserved with new kids, especially kids his own age, before he thaws up and becomes “himself”. But he’s much more outgoing with adults, and sometimes says things that are borderline cheeky. He’s had my husband and myself struggling not to burst out in pretty inappropriate laughter from some of the comments he can make to adult strangers. I gather that that’s not very typical behavior for an oldest sibling, who tend to be very proper, but it’s a part of his personality we didn’t know existed, so we’re secretly delighted.

Right before I sat down to write this I asked Justin how he feels about some of the situations that used to be difficult for him. He says he still sometimes get the tense feeling and the butterflies, but he knows that those feelings will pass, and the breathing exercises still work, it seems. I have only noticed him use the breathing technique once after we were done with the program, but he says that he uses it pretty often.

It seems to me that Justin still has some of the anxiety, but not at a level where it ever influences his behavior to any degree. That seems like a fine result to me, and I imagine that the anxious feelings will subside even more as they lose more and more of their intensity. No anxiety is just as abnormal as too much of it.

A positive side?
I know it’s a strange thought, but I wonder if this whole anxiety thing may not have been positive for him, in a way. Getting to terms with it and working consciously with himself to conquer it has probably helped him mature and know himself better in a way that most kids don’t. Maybe he has seen himself for who he is, and he’s okay with that? I don’t know, of course, but it’s a feeling I sometimes get when I see him interact with other kids. At any rate, it seems his victory is permanent.

“Clara”
My daughter also briefly used the program, and as I expected, she never displayed any of the same anxiety symptoms after that. The anxiety wasn’t buried as deep in her, I guess. On the other hand, I am aware that girls are more susceptible to anxiety disorders later in life, so knowing that we have a way to drive it out if it ever appears in some other form is reassuring to me.

The youngest kid
My youngest has still not shown any symptoms of abnormal anxiety. He’s one of those kids that say the darndest things, and he’s often had my husband and me laugh until it hurt from some of his offhand comments. That topic is worthy of a blog all of its own. The stuff a three-year-old can say…

Seems like we’re done here! Yay!
So I suppose it’s a happy ending for us, and we can enjoy the normal life of a family with three non-anxious kids. Sure, we have all the headaches and worries that every family has, but we don’t have to struggle with that other problem on top of everything else.

I may post more updates later, but probably only if there are any developments, one way or the other. I will still occasionally post some less personal articles or stuff about anxiety in children on this blog, because I think it’s an important topic. After I posted my story, I have connected with many parents who have anxious kids. It’s a major problem for so many families, and the more we know about it, the better we can fight it.

Here is a link to the program that helped us.

Good luck with helping your child overcome child anxiety!

Ann

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