Tag Archives: anxiety

Outlets for Anger and Anxiety

October 8, 2013

If your child tends to tantrum, explode or go ballistic, teach him ways to relax.boiling-point-thumbnail-298x300 And help him learn how to implement them before he reaches his boiling point.

Maybe it’s a certain kind of music, a yoga pose, going outside for a walk, throwing/bouncing a basketball or jumping on a trampoline.


As a teen, I would go to the piano and pound out Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor when I was angry. [I found that was more acceptable to my parents than slamming doors!]

Keep a menu handy, listing four or five calming options for your child. And encourage him to use the info before he explodes.

Fear of the unknown

Anticipatory anxiety. My son struggles with it. I struggle with his struggle. And I try to help.  Image

When I see he’s getting overwhelmed or frazzled, I try my best to stay calm because the last thing I want to do is fuel the fire. Here are some of the ways I try to defuse it:

  • Provide positive supports—visual [photos of favorite things] or auditory [music] or simply offer to help.
  • Try to turn the negative anticipation/expectation into positive anticipation. This fear of the unknown is just that—unknown. So it could be something good just as easily as it could be something bad. I try to be optimistic; many times that attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that’s always nice!
  • Redirect or distract—instead of exacerbating the issue by listening to your racing heart or spiraling out of control, I like to have a quote or saying—a new one each day—that keeps me in a positive mode. It could be a video clip that lifts you up. One thing my son likes is a widget I put on his desktop: it’s a picture frame. And all the photos/visuals stored in his computer’s ‘My Pictures’ file play continuously like a slideshow. I put movie-related things here, i.e. pictures of movie directors, actors, scenes from movies, movie posters and so on. [This helps keep him from going off-track and logging onto imdb.com. Once he does that, he’s lost forever.]
  • And finally, I ask a question: If this is an overwhelming, upsetting feeling, what gives you a comforting, good feeling? What can you look forward to? Visualize that to help push you through the anxiety.  Image

Simply having someone talk to you in a relaxed, unruffled manner does wonders when you’re in an agitated state. [But the other night my son was too far gone so my husband encouraged him to yell out or scream if it would make him feel better. I’m glad he didn’t yell—but probably just having the permission to do so made it okay. After lots of pacing and machinations and drama, he was ready to listen. Then we did the redirect step and won him back.]

A little TLC goes a long way, too. I like to end with some loving, supportive words dished up with a little snack.

Ahhh, another crisis averted. Sort of.

What are some strategies you use with your kids?

High School Anxieties

OK, my son is in high school. As an individual on the autism spectrum, his biggest challenges are socialization. But he tries. He tries so very hard. And that does my heart good.

I was touched recently as he reached out to me and shared his fears. At 16-and-a-half, this man-child with facial hair who stands over 6 feet tall, still needs me for something.

I am no longer able to help him with homework—especially math and science. He takes care of himself so much of the time. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t drive yet, he gets by nicely without my constant intervention.

And that’s bittersweet for me, for sure.

But recently he asked for my help, and that was wonderful on several levels. Selfishly, it’s always nice to be needed. But more importantly, I am thrilled that he spoke up and asked for help. As you know, that’s not always the case with our kids. I guess the talk therapy is paying off.

Here’s the story: He joined a new club on campus and was going to his third meeting. He got to the room but his anxiety kept him from opening the door and entering. So he called me. Me! His mom! And he articulated his fears:


Keep your teen talking — if not to you, to someone. Other family members, clergy, counselors, therapists. The more they verbalize their emotions, the less build up there will be. It’s just healthy!

“Mom, I’ve passed by the room a few times, looking in, but, I’m kinda anxious. I don’t think I should go in. I don’t know what to do.”      

I tried to savor that—while also acknowledging his apprehensions but offering assurances and urging him to push through his anxieties. After a brief pep talk, he said he’d give it a shot. Then he hung up.

I must confess, a teeny-tiny small part of me was hoping he’d call right back. Hey, I’m human. And I’m a mom. But a much bigger part of me was relieved when my phone did not ring. And after school his very first words to me were, “I’m so glad I went to the club meeting! It was great! I did it!”

Ahhh, sweet victory! I urged him to recognize the good, happy feeling so he could recall it the next time his anxiety crept up—and use this euphoria as an incentive to push through the angst.

Here endeth the lesson. [My movie-guru son would appreciate this line—it’s a quote from ‘The Untouchables’, the 1987 movie directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, of course.]

TIP: Dealing with Disrupted Plans

June 22, 2012


Autism Resource Mom has had her ARMs wrapped around some personal business over the last few weeks. But she’s back now and rarin’ to go. Sorry for any inconvenience caused during her absence.

Dealing with Disrupted Plans

We’ve all had to be flexible. No matter how hard we try to prepare every last detail, there are things out of our control that can upset our arrangement. What do we do then? You or your child is ready to lose it. How do we “talk them down”?


Disruptions are hiccups in our daily lives.

One approach that has worked for us is what I call the Delayed-Reaction Plan: Let’s say, for example, that we were traveling and missed our connecting flight. Trust me, I know this doesn’t go over big with our kids. Been there, done that. But I offer this explanation to my panicked son:

          We were going to wait 15 minutes and then board the plane to go home. We will still do that, it’ll just be a bit later. Now, we have some extra time, so we’ll go have dinner, walk around, visit the restrooms and then we’ll come back to this gate, wait 15 minutes and board the plane to go home. It’s important to show that the same procedure will occur, but a few steps have been added in between; there’s a delayed reaction.

And when your child learns to go along with this, heap on the praise for his flexibility! We really lucked out a few years ago when this happened to us. We had to be put up for the night in a hotel, which was unsettling for our son because he hadn’t figured on it. Anyway, he was tolerating the change. When we finally boarded our plane the next morning, he spotted his favorite villain from James Bond films on board – actor Robert Davi. He could hardly stay in his seat the whole flight from Newark to L.A. At baggage claim he was jumping out of his skin—but he wouldn’t dare go speak to him, so I went over to the movie tough guy and told him my son was a fan. “Where is he?” he asked. I explained that he’s quite shy and he said, “So am I. Where’s your son?” I motioned to my shy one to come over and he did! They shook hands, exchanged a few shy words, posed for a few photos and, well, it made his day.

What did my son take away from that whole experience? “I’m so glad we missed our connection!” I know we got lucky. Wishing you missed connections and fun successes like ours!