Tag Archives: childhood anxiety

Between Nurture and No-Nonsense

I’ve written here several times about how I feel like finding balance is one of the keys for parenting and homeschooling for me.  I often feel like I’m trying to walk a tightrope line between structure and freedom, indulgence and strictness, and pushing and patience.  The place between these extremes is where I feel like great parenting and healthy kids comes from, even if I don’t always feel like my personal balance is just right.

Lately, I have felt a huge tug between being that nurturing, loving, understanding, cuddle up in my lap mother and being that “shut up and get over yourself” mother.  Both BalletBoy and Mushroom in the last few weeks have pushed me on this in various ways.

With BalletBoy, he has several times gotten himself high up without a clear way down and wanted me to do it for him (an impossible task when he’s over my head).  With Mushroom, as always, it’s schoolwork where he finds himself overwhelmed and on the ledge.

On the one hand, I want to be the patient, loving mother.  I want to be all attachment parenting, no judgments mama.  But sometimes, the more I give, the more they take and the less they actually get any better or make any progress.  It’s as if my helping them down, letting them out of it, easing off the pressure, actually makes them less secure and more upset.  Instead of feeding their confidence, every hug and patient word feeds their fears and anxieties.

So I find myself going the other direction.  I state calmly my support and then…  I ignore.  Or, sometimes, I give some harsh words.  Get yourself down.  Take a deep breath and get over it.  I’ll help you when you stop panicking and let me help.  Until then, I can’t even hear you!

Sometimes it works right away and that’s so validating.  Sometimes, it takes forever.  Eons of my nasty ignoring for a child to calm down and come around.  And then I really wonder if the balance is off.  Where’s that sweet spot between nurture and no-nonsense where a child is both secure and independent and knows how loved he is?

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Sometimes, I’m Brave

BalletBoy slides down into the churning waters (and my arms).

The anxiety of my children is a mystery I don’t know if I’ll ever fully comprehend.  While we were traveling, BalletBoy went down the rock slide at the lake by Papa and Granny’s house.  This is a two part water slide and the second one is quite a fast drop into the water.  But both Mushroom and BalletBoy did it multiple times after only a little bit of hesitation.  On the other hand, just a couple days before, BalleyBoy went into a children’s play structure at the Chehaw Animal Park, spotted a picture of a giant termite on the wall, and had a near panic attack of terror, screaming and shaking.  There’s no logic or reason to this.  The slide isn’t dangerous per se, but it certainly has an element of thrill to it and you typically get a nose full of water at the end so I can understand being afraid of it.  But a picture of a bug inside a pretend cave with a dinky slide inside it?  I don’t get it.  Not one bit.  That didn’t stop me from telling him it was okay and offering whatever comfort I could, but I’m still a little confused.

It’s not the first time one of my kids has been suddenly, uncontrollably freaked out about something completely unexpectedly.  I think it must be that when you’re so young and inexperienced, it must be really hard to discern what’s actually dangerous and what isn’t.  My kids are both pretty cautious by nature, so that must make it even harder.  Still, I struggle to soothe what are obviously irrational fears.  Mushroom once briefly entertained a fear of dolphins, who he thought might be able to swim up the pipes to bite his butt when he sat on the toilet.  Why couldn’t they be scared of something more stereotypical?  There are books about being scared of thunderstorms and the dark.

No, please, don't make me go down the tiny slide in there! There's a picture of a giant termite on the wall! (But you can see Mushroom had no issue with it.)