Sounds easy enough.
But when you are emotionally exhausted it is hard to know where to start...where is my oxygen!?
I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what I could do, as a mom, to give my child the skills he needed for school and with friends.
School and friends pretty much made up his world and how he viewed himself in this world.
As an OT I meet kids like this and their parents or teachers who desperately want tools or tricks to share with these kids. They need oxygen too!
I came up with some resources of my own, found and streamlined resources from other professionals and tried out different ways to reach the people who interact with these kids...
the people these kids rely on for guidance, support and stability.
I hope this website helps you see that you are not alone,
that we can help a child find happy.
It just may be time to see this child a little differently.
■Emotions are meant to come and go- they are temporary and not meant to be held like baggage so acknowledge the feeling then figure out ways to let it go
■Happiness research indicates that many people actually feel shame if they don’t feel happy which increases anxiety related to happiness- relax and try to "find" happy
■When you keep emotions inside, your body shuts down. If you try to numb out the bad stuff you won't feel all the good stuff either...find a way to talk about your emotions and then move on.
■When your child is talking to you, try responses like, “I hear you, that sounds hard, tell me more". Help them to see that what they are afraid of, or are working through is uncomfortable but not actually dangerous. It is ok to "feel" because that is how we grow
■Acknowledge the signal they are getting but help them transform it so it feels different
–Performance anxiety: I’m excited, or I’m calm? Excited is physiologically close to stress so you can rise to the occasion
–Change the perspective for the signal they are getting to something that is a challenge, “bring it on”
–Name the feeling and befriend it. Use Dragon talk to "blame" the dragon for all those signals and challenge the child to tap into their thinking brain to train that dragon.
■Document success in a journal, or write them in a Dragon Journal
■Remind them of previous success and point out moments when they ARE finding success right now…they often don’t see this
■Avoidance feeds anxiety so take action and stay to experience the emotions
■Make an exposure hierarchy- steps of a trigger you expose them to slowly (imagine what is scary, watch a video about it with all the lights on, see it in the distance, touch it, sit with it etc.)
■Challenge your dragon to experience a little more than last time. “I will stay and do this until my hands sweat AND my voice cracks” while focusing on what is happening inside their body
■Add in breathing, movement and self-regulation strategies while being exposed to something they are triggered by (in example: show them a picture of what they are scared of while playing uplifting music, sucking on something sweet, soothing items like a stuffed animal or blanket with them while holding their hand or snuggling).
■Remember to give time for processing- sometimes you have to walk away, sometimes they need time to come up with ideas or make decisions
■Catch them using coping skills or exposing themselves to various stimuli