Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alleviating Emma's bag of worries

Sometimes Emma seems to worry a lot. And sometimes that worries me. At times I think it might "just" be a ploy to keep me at her bedside longer when she does not want to sleep although it is 9pm on a weekday but at other times she seems to get caught up in feverish anxiety that seems genuine. That's why I bought this book. It arrived in the mail today and I look forward to reading it with her.

I know a lot of kids get worried about things, sometimes due to misunderstanding something they heard from an adult converstaion (like I totally waited up a hole night once waiting for the A-bomb to go off, hugging my favorite stuffed animals on my bed in total anguish until I woke in the morning to the same old world and decided to ask an adult about this bomb....).

The thing is, even when I think she is authentically, truly worried, I am not sure the things she is talking about are really the things worrying her. Hence I am not sure how to reassure her. For example, one day after school and some time at the park, she suddenly got into a state about not writing her "y" the right way round.   We practice the letter "y" (at her request) and she gets it right and despite all the reassurance I could muster having interrupted my dinner preparations to hug her, console her, explain that she is learning to write and like everyone who is learning something she will sometimes get it wrong; "but what if Mrs T. asks me to write complicated words and I can't do it? she wails.. I tell her that she also used not to know how to walk, run, ride a bike, speak English... and now she does. That it's like William learning new words and trying to pronounce them properly (he has been unable to make the sounds "r" "l" or "w" so far);    "it's ok, he's just learning" she often says when he says "choo" for thank-you or "waan" instead of "run".  She gets it.
"There is no rush"  I try to convince her. She will get there, she will learn this like all the other things she has already learned. Oh dear. Why on earth does she put so much pressure on herself?  I try to reassure her that Mrs T. knows that she is learning and that she will only ask her things that she is capable of doing now. In fact, that's Mrs T.'s job; to teach children so they can learn more easily. The wailing goes on and on. I'm not sure she is hearing me and I am not sure that the reassurance I am giving her is targeting the issue. It's as if she is on a roll with no intention of calming down.

That evening, the hugs, some "pink milk" and sitting on my lap and rocking do the trick. Thankfully, William spent the whole time drawing by himself at the dining room table. Dinner is nearly burnt but Emma has gotten something off her chest - whatever it was - since she is quite cheerful through dinner and bath-time. I on the other hand am exhausted, drained and a bit worried and sad.

I write her teacher, Mrs T. a note about the episode and ask if she has any insights at all. Mrs T. tells me Emma is in fact quite careless about how she writes her letters at school and does not seem worried at all.  Also that she has no trouble with any of her work. We later talk about Emma's double-sided character; how she is sociable and exuberant at times and super shy and insecure at others.  Still, I wonder... why this total melt-down at home?

The talk with her teacher just adds to my feeling that sometimes, she buries herself under this big load of self-induced pressure or fear, so that she can get reassurance - is it a plea for attention? - but I still do not know what she needs to be reassured about. Just that she needs to be reassured that it will be ok.  I guess that's all I can do. Listen and reassure.

I am going to have a chat with the school psychologist tomorrow just in case she has any ideas.

No comments: