If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

A Worry Tree

Child 3 struggles with emotions, especially anxiety and apprehension. She will meltdown when she doesn't understand her maths homework, she tantrums if she thinks that she is in trouble and when it's time for gymnastic competition well diva is an under statement. 
I have been managing these "moments" as I always have done, ignoring what I feel is irrelevant, talking thorough what I feel is relevant, allowing time to calm or cuddling and whispering. However, it very, very slowly, dawned on me that child 3 still wasn't managing her emotions so my usual wasn't enough. I had to find another way so after searching through anything that could help I found an interesting article about "The Worry Tree" 

It is a very simple idea:
  1. Get your child to draw a  tree and some leaves to attach to the tree. 
  2. Talk to your child about what is worrying them, and if they are old enough get them to write down their fears on one of the leaves. I asked child 3 to write down her worries, so the list began; what if mummy got ill and died, what would happen if mummy and daddy divorced, what would happen if her friends all hated her, World War III, gymnastic competitions or child 4's birth family finding him. 
  3. First ask if we can actually do anything about the worry. EG World War III, we cannot control that but we talked about the sad things happening around the world and talked about how we vote in our government here in England and that we need to trust that they will look after us, if we disagree with the government we can contact our MP, sign petitions and take part in demonstrations to share our concerns.  Mummy becoming ill, well at the moment I am as healthy as a horse but I can't promise that forever, worrying won't change that but I could promise that if I became ill, I would fight it and I would tell her everything she needed to know, if the worst happened and I did die, her daddy would still be here to look after her as would her Nanna and Grandad and child 1 and 2.  We could help with worries about gymnastic competitions. We talked about what exactly the worry was and then we talked about how we could deal with that. We talked about learning her routines, practising them. We talked about the worst case scenario, if she forgot her routine, if she fell on her face or everyone laughed at her. Then we talked about how to deal with each of those situations. 
Once we had dealt with each one, the leaves could fall to the ground.

I wasn't sure if child 3 had taken the idea on board, she became agitated as we worked through her list and eventually stomped off refusing to talk anymore. Interestingly though child 1 and 2 wanted to share their worries and they found the whole process fascinating and very helpful. In fact it gave me a real insight to their thoughts about today and their futures, opening lots of discussions about many subjects. It also gave me lots of food for thought as to how I could best support them, though that's probably for another blog.

Today, though to my delight, child 3 took part in an area schools tumbling competition, she was nervous but still completed her three routines. At the last meet she was extremely anxious, clingy and weepy. So there was a huge improvement and despite being a little disappointed in her placing (I was really proud of her) she had a great time and is healthily nervous about the next compete - next week!!! Was this due to our worry tree? I don't know but it was definitely worth an afternoons experiment as I think my three older children benefitted from that time to talk and share.

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