Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Immeasurable Success

Keila blew us away when she chose to compete in a swim meet! It wasn't so much how fast she swam, or which heat she was in - it was that she even chose to do it at all. The level of anxiety that she deals with is hard to understand. The constant battle against those immobilizing emotions is exhausting let alone the day to day living. She's worked so hard to understand what she is feeling, to learn to vocalize it and to find a space to nourish "being still".
This is the workbook we've been doing this summer and has some real practical ways of dealing anxiety. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an anxious child.

When summer came we chose swim team as a way of practicing the skills she has learned to fight her anxiety. It was done in the hopes of helping to prepare her for full day kindergarten this fall. I didn't expect anything more than going to practices daily and for her to swim the full 25m. She's done that and done it well. There are no more tears at the practices, no more screaming or meltdowns when asked to do something. She is physically exhausted but over the last few weeks she isn't as emotionally drained. She was more than capable of swimming all the strokes the full distance so it was suggested she compete in a meet.
Initially she declined, the pressures of performing in front of strangers can be overwhelming. one day she announced she wanted to compete in the meet the following day. In the few hours before the meet I could see her anxiety building, finger sucking, picking at her skin, etc. It wasn't too surprising when she hit a point where she simply melted down. After a good cry we talked and she told me she had promised her coach she would swim that night. Knowing how hard this was for her I simply said that promises were important to keep but that I would respect whatever choice she made. That was that, and she went without further fuss.
I am so proud of her on so many levels, first that she kept her word to her coach. For a five year old to do that is a good statement of her inborn character, especially when there were so many reasons she could have made to back out. Second was that she handled her emotions well, no one would have known how scary it was for her. Finally she swam, did it well and competed a total of 6 times. She is proud of her ribbons she has won.

We also did some summer art classes. She is extremely critical of herself and makes perfection her never ending torture. I hoped that with the art classes she might begin to see that there is no real standard of perfection and also find a new outlet for some of her emotions. With the patient tutelage of Shannon Baker and her own persistent personality she has gone from this
This is actually a self portrait from her workbook, it shows her with all her worries crowding in on her.
To this! Its a self portrait of her in Egyptian garb! She is proud of her work and we have tape most of it up on her bedroom wall. She always starts each class a little anxious but she always comes home happy and pleased with her work.
This is her chameleon who is camouflaged against the sky.

While the idea of full day kindergarten looms over her, I hope that this summer has given her a glimpse of all she is capable of. She is a little powerhouse and just can't see it with all the lies her anxiety tells her. Sometimes the greatest successes are fought in our hearts and minds and are immeasurable by world standards. I'm so proud of her!

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