Anxiety (and other issues)

Overcoming Anxiety
Heather Booth

For years Austin had an intense fear of thunderstorms. So intense that if we were out and the sky turned gray he would panic about a thunderstorm and we would need to turn around and come home. When an actual thunderstorm happened his fear was absolutely crippling.

For Austin, his fear of thunderstorms was so large and so real he felt it through his whole body. He was dealing with it in the only way that felt right to him and that was to panic. This was a very difficult time for us - he was afraid and I didn't know how to deal with a fear I didn't understand.

Through trial and error on my part, I found it was most helpful for him if I cozied up with him under blankets when he was scared, reassure him when he needed it, and make sure we had lots of flashlights charged and within reach. Oh, and to remain calm myself, which was hard when he went into full on panic mode.

Recently in Phoenix, we experienced our first desert storm. Howling winds that snapped tree branches, torrential downpours and lots of thunder. Austin never went into panic mode. He asked if we could play a game together and he curled up in bed with me wearing his noise-canceling headphones. After years of being scared at the very mention of thunderstorm, he found the tools he needed to remain calm. It was a very empowering moment for him.

My takeaway from watching Austin deal with a thunderstorm in ways I couldn't have imagined possible three years ago is: Things change. Our kids get older. They outgrow stages we think they never will. They learn all they need to know, in their own time.

Heather Booth
Friday, October 10, 2014, on a now-gone blog

Picture of the aftermath of the storm at the hotel we were staying in taken by Lisa Jonick.


This is an exchange from the facebook group Radical Unschooling Info, on June 30, 2017. The originator deleted it all in a huff. Thanks to the efforts of Jo Isaac and Debbie Harper, all the text was saved. Debbie Harper's response never made it onto facebook, but is below. The compilation and formatting took many hours. Two days later I got an apology from the person who deleted it; that, too, is below.

If you read through it, I think you will be impressed with the turnaround in the mom. I hope she maintained some of these understandings, and that her family is doing well. I didn't keep her name. The anxiety she was reporting in her child was being acted out by the mom, which she realized and admitted, in the exchange with me afterwards (also below).

—Sandra Dodd
July 2, 2017

Original Poster:

to Radical Unschooling Info

Hi everyone, I am seeking some guidance. My 5 year old son was diagnosed this week with generalized anxiety disorder. Since before he was 1 year old, he has had trouble with pooping. He has always seemed to dislike going more so than not being able to go. I've expressed a concern that he's withholding on multiple occasions but have always been met with "give him Miralax" on each occasion.

Well, we gave him Miralax for one week and he still withheld but was doubled over in pain. We've given him suppositories and laxatives. Same thing.

It's clearly beyond stool softeners and such. He only goes every 7-10 days. My therapist finally got me in touch with a childhood therapist which is where the anxiety piece came in. She believes he's withholding because it's the only thing he can control, which has been my belief for a couple years now. While it is refreshing to have someone listening to us, it sounds like the most common treatment uses a lot of reward based action. We also were recommended, by my therapist, to give him a consequence when his anxiety turns into violence.

I think punishing him for something that is out of his control is completely insane, which I expressed to her. But I also am unsure of WHAT to do. I still want to treat him respectfully but I'm not sure how to proceed without the assistance of a professional that I trust, even though it doesn't completely align with our beliefs.

I do think it is important he goes to therapy for the informational piece and leaning how to manage his emotions so I plan on continuing on that front. I would love some input from other parents who have a child battling anxiety and stool withholding. I'm not against using things that will help him because my main priority is getting him to understand and be able to use positive coping mechanisms. In the past, out of desperation, we used M&Ms to encourage him to go. So he would go, but barely, and then expect the M&Ms so it backfired.

Also, I have anxiety too so I know how big of a beast anxiety can be. Thank you in advance. ❤️

Sandra Dodd:
-=-I would love some input from other parents who have a child battling anxiety and stool withholding. -=-

No.

If you want that, find a different group.

Here, the best advice will be from experienced unschoolers, who can help you move toward living in an unschooling way. If that's not what you want, this group isn't a good place for the question.

So for starters, don't see him as "battling anxiety." If you see this as an evil to be overcome, instead of a reality to be accepted gently and peacefully, you won't move toward more peace.

http://sandradodd.com/battle

http://sandradodd.com/peace

For at least a day, don't post.
Read those two links, a little at a time.
Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- We also were recommended, by my therapist, to give him a consequence when his anxiety turns into violence. I think punishing him for something that is out of his control is completely insane, which I expressed to her. But I also am unsure of WHAT to do.-=-

Read about laxatives. Find something that's given to babies, maybe. Consider the old-time stuff if you're nervous about modern things. Fletcher's or castor oil. If it doesn't work, it doesn't, but if you don't try, you add anxiety (yours and his). That's not for this discussion, though.

One therapist saying "generalized anxiety disorder" should not make it a fact. They're getting paid to say something. If they say "I don't know," you won't come back with more money. So don't forget that some people, some responses, are about money.

If he's being violent, stop that. Don't see violence as something completely out of his control. Part of the problem (the biggest part) of labelling someone with one disorder or another is the idea that it gives them the right to hurt people, property, relationships. If you're his partner, help him be at peace and not feel violent.

Sandra Dodd:
It's unfortunate, the term "regular" for the idea that people should and must have a bowel movement at least once a day. Some people never have, never will.

Here: some children only have bowel movement once a week - Google Search

Keep this part off the discussion as it's not about unschooling. Keep the idea of googling for questions that aren't about unchooling, though. :-)

Sandra Dodd:
-=-She believes he's withholding because it's the only thing he can control, which has been my belief for a couple years now. -=-

Instead of thinking of it as "control," make his life more peaceful, and full of options, and distractions, and happy experiences. Let him NOT think about poop for long hours on end. Or days. I had a young child who said once that he hated poop and wished it had never been invented. He passed that stage, and grew up whole and healthy. The times I stressed and pressured him never made anything better, they only made it worse and I still regret that. There weren't many of them, which is probably why I remember them. They were out of character and not at all helpful.

This page might help you find different ways to see and be:

http://sandradodd.com/mindfulparenting

Sylvia Woodman:
Strive to find ways to make your child's life soft, and easy, and peaceful. Try to remove things that are stressful or general obstacles to your child. Consider this as perhaps a rough patch in your child's life, and endeavor to help smooth it out for him. Try to anticipate his needs. Bring food and drink before he asks, before he notices that he's hungry. Is there too much activity in his life, consider cutting back. Give him lots of opportunities to make choices for himself. Don't let his bowels be the only thing he can control.
Nichole Allard:
My kids and I (and my husband) don't go daily... I don't consider us not regular. Some people just take longer to go. If he was having no issues other than NOT going I would step back about it. Sometimes we can make something worse by fretting over it and throwing things at it to "fix" it. In all honesty I would step back on supplements and obsessing over his bathroom habits, if he is having issues going I would sit with him, hold his hand, coach him to breathe it down and perhaps sing... a couple of mine would withhold or had rather large bowel movements and this is what I would do every time to help guide them through the discomfort. I did not obsess over how often they went or didn't.
Sylvia Woodman:
I just wrote ==-==Strive to find ways to make your child's life soft, and easy, and peaceful.==-== I want to expand on this. I got this advice here in this group maybe 8 years ago and I took it to heart.

My daughter Gabriella was having an especially hard time every morning. So rather than keep thinking,"when is this kid gonna shape up?" I started thinking what can *I* do, as her mom, as her partner, to help her mornings be smoother? Here are some things that I discovered.

1) Don't talk to her. You know those coffee mugs with the lines that tell you at what point enough coffee has been consumed and the drinker is now ready engage in conversation? Gabriella didn't drink coffee but I noticed that she was sort of using TV in the same way. She really needed to watch 2-3 cartoons before she was ready to talk to people.

2) FEED HER. For nearly 10 years Gabriella ate the same breakfast every week day. So WHY THE HELL was I asking her what she wanted to eat every morning? How about I just make it and serve it to her??? Those two, tiny changes that *I* made (Not Gabriella!) completely transformed our mornings together.

Think about things you can do to make things easier for your child.

Shannon McClendon:
-=-She believes he's withholding because it's the only thing he can control, which has been my belief for a couple of years now.-=-

Whether it is or isn't causing him to poop less often, why is this the only thing he can control? Part of unschooling is letting kids have a lot of control over things like when they sleep, when they wake; when, what, and how much they eat; what activities they do. Whether or not his pooping habits are actually a problem, he should be able to control a lot more than that.

Think about ways he can have more say in his daily life. Think about why you think that pooping is the only thing he can control and how you can change that.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- Part of unschooling is letting kids have a lot of control over things like when they sleep, when they wake; when, what, and how much they eat; what activities they do.-=-

Please avoid calling it "control" instead of options or choice.

Debbie Harper :
-=-my main priority is getting him to understand and be able to use positive coping mechanisms-=-

Sometimes parents get tangled up with a particular issue, and lose sight of the child.

...If my partner's main priority was "getting [me] to understand and be able to use positive coping mechanisms", I'd likely feel alone, frustrated, disrespected.

Instead, I would love my partner to listen to my perspective and experience, and to engage humbly and creatively with me around any issues that I wanted his help with...

Embrace the child - listen to and be receptive to him. Help him with things that matter to him, help him feel whole and cherished as he is, help him feel content and fulfilled at the end of each day.

Jenny Cyphers:
I'd let go of the generalized anxiety disorder. He's 5. He doesn't have a world behind him that's given him cause for anxiety. That's a grown up idea. Little kids have little problems. It's the beauty of being a little kid, they don't have all the knowledge of the world, good or bad. What they have is the small world around them of their daily lives.

What goes on in his daily life? If it isn't an engaging and fun filled life, change that right away. Do everything in your power to keep his life sweet and innocent, the sort of life that children thrive in. There is much to be anxious about and yet the opposite is also true. There is much to be at peace about. If you, mom, are also anxious, then this part will be more about you. Find ways to curb your own anxiety. In doing that you will naturally extend that to your child. I get how anxiety works. Maybe this is true and maybe it isn't, but a mom and a 5 yr old could be feeding off of each other's anxiety. Do whatever you can to stop that. When you feel your own anxiety, move to a different room and de-escalate it. When your son seems anxious, do whatever you can to separate how he is feeling, from your own feelings. Don't own his anxious feelings, but be centered in such a way where you can be the calm center in his path. If his anxiety cause you to be anxious, deal with this directly to change it.

Then, make his life easier so he has more control about little things like what to eat, what to wear, what to play with, where to go or not. Find ways to make other things he can't quite do yet, easier for him. Make sure there are stepping stools available, and that things he uses are in reach without needing to ask for help. Watch and pay attention to the areas in his life he has to ask for help with, and then alleviate that need.

Jennifer Smith:
My 4 year old has down syndrome. It's very difficult for her to poo. She does try to hold it. So.... I give her prune juice and raisins. I rub her abdomen while I snuggle and comfort her. I give her warm, playful baths. Being active can help so I chase her around while she squeals with delight. When it's up to 3 days of no poo or if I see that she is very uncomfortable, I sit her on her little potty while I sit next to her on a stool (no pun intended). I hold her hands and ask her to push all the while being sweet and gentle. Sometimes I have to gently push her knees up just a little bit to start her going. I try not to use miralax or suppositories because it makes the poo come very fast and causes her pain. Research natural methods to reduce or ease constipation and try some. The more your little one has better and better experiences, the more soothing, calm and gentle you are, the more the anxiety will decrease.
Sandra Dodd :
Jenny's comment reminded me, and Jennifer's about pushing knees up, too. -=- Make sure there are stepping stools available, and that things he uses are in reach without needing to ask for help.-=-

Get a stool by the toilet so the child's feet are not dangling.

Lynda Raina:
https://www.bedwettingandaccidents.com/jane-and-the-giant...I haven't read this book myself but I have followed this doctor'

s blog on helping parents and children understand poop.
I've opted not to put a link to that book or site. The doctor there is pretty sure that most bedwetting is caused by constipation, and recommends an enema a day for a month. I'm not at all interested in helping him promote that.
Bedwetting and Accidents | Jane and the Giant Poop
Bedwetting and Accidents offers support for childhood�
BEDWETTINGANDACCIDENTS.COM

Original Poster:

We have Jane and the Giant Poop! It's amazing.
Jenny Cyphers:
Everyone Poops is another good one. If a kid enjoys books, keeping some poo books around might be useful.
Tatiana Plechenko Doula:
[Original Poster], I think you've gotten great responses here. I do not have much time to go too much into our story nor do I have a permission to do so. I just want to say that looking back at a similar situation, our home environment was very stressful. I worked a lot and it is still a work in progress to create a supportive one and it is all self work.

I wanted to mention that what we found works really well is a natural magnesium supplement Magnesium Citrate. It is sold at most health food stores. It relaxes the nervous system, tones the muscles and makes the poop soft (start with small doses and increase slooowly until the right consistency is achieved). It does not strip the body of nutrients like a laxative would but rather nourishes it.

Having it on hand made a huge difference for me. I relaxed and let go and so did my child.

Good luck!

Original Poster:

Thank you!
Tatiana Plechenko Doula:
[Original Poster] you are welcome! I hope you find it helpful!
Original Poster:
I haven�t read all of the suggested reading from Sandra just yet but I did want to touch on a few things. To begin with, I�ll let you all know that I come from a childhood that was full of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse with a side of alcoholism and drug use.
This is true of very many unschoolers. I'm not sure whether she was applying for an exemption or what.

There was little to no nurturing. That has, in turn, led me to this journey, knowing that I wanted to do differently by my children. This led me to attachment parenting which led me to homeschooling which then led me to unschooling. This does not come naturally to me. I work at breaking a cycle every day. That being said, our days are easy. They are, mostly, peaceful. We are home much of the time, spending our days doing whatever it is that comes to us. We spend a great deal of time outdoors. I have three children, the 5 year old being my first born.

I have been following unschooling pages for two years. I understand how unschooling works. Little by little, over the past two years, I have been applying more and more principals.
"Following unschooling pages," but had only joined Radical Unschooling Info a month before, and didn't seem to have read much. Also, at this point, a rosy picture of peace is being painted... to shush us? To suggest that weekly sessions with therapists weren't the original and ongoing scenario?
My children have control over most things in their lives. They decide what to wear, how to cut their hair, what to eat for meals and snacks. They pick their own clothing, footwear, activities. When they begin to get tired, we move upstairs to a bedroom where we all sleep together, and my children will talk to me, sing to me, sometimes we will listen to a podcast or read books, until they are in dream land. They have options throughout the day of what they want to do, we have rest periods, we eat when we are hungry and sleep when we are tired. My son's anxiety is not just about his pooping habits. As you can imagine, I have done a great deal of research on the topic and certainly was not looking for any advice as it relates to regularity (I am well aware that regularity does not need to mean every day BMs). I was not looking for advice as it pertains to my son having anxiety (which he does, and no, I will not ignore it). I embrace my children as they are. I listen, I guide, I devote my days to connection and love. I have had anxiety for my entire life and yes, his anxiety triggers my anxiety and vice versa. That does not mean I can simply go to a separate room as that is not how anxiety works, it doesn't become more manageable by removing myself from a situation (of course I have tried this too). He will also not go to the bathroom on the toilet. He goes in a Pull-Up, where he is more comfortable. Again, this was not the nature of my question. His movements are not the nature of my question. His need to go to the bathroom increases his anxiety. He becomes irritable and aggressive. We will talk about when he becomes violent, what could really be causing his anger. We work through that. I apologize if my verbiage isn't clear in this post as well, but alas, I am STILL LEARNING. I came to this group to ask about rewards and punishments though I didn't make that very clear in my original post. Rewards and punishments as it pertains to behavior that is based on anxiety taking over, irritability caused by lack of bowel movements, and how I should handle that as it pertains to a plan with his therapist, how to navigate that I am not interested in a reward system. As far as the therapist simply giving him a diagnosis for a paycheck, I do not believe this is true.
Beginning of the year to the end of June is a whole lot of weeks.

"Thank you" and "I appreciate the time..." add insult to the injury of her having deleted ALL of this writing with two clicks.

REMINDER TO EVERYONE:
We're NOT writing as a fix-it desk to repair toasters, phone screens, and personal problems. We are discussing unschooling. New situation on the table? Discuss how unschooling can be improved. Problem? Discuss this problem, in the light of unschooling, for the benefit of all readers.

My therapist has been seeing me since the beginning of the year for free. Every. Single. Week. The therapist my son will be seeing fit him in to a very full schedule and ahead of other people on a waiting list. She would have been receiving money whether she was seeing my son or not. That being said, thank you for all of the feedback. I appreciate the time each of you has taken to read and respond to the post.

Debbie Harper:
-=-I came to this group to ask about rewards and punishments-=-

But the issue seems to be a child who is experiencing too much stress and anxiety. When the environment is contributing to a child's anxiety, improve the environment, rather than seeking to improve the child.

If you make your home-life more peaceful and fun, anxiety will lessen without any need to venture away from unschooling into the land of rewards and punishments.

This page is full of insights about how to help bring more peace to your home:
http://sandradodd.com/parentingpeacefully

Parenting Peacefully
When my child starts screaming at me, it's my cue. That's the little "ok, I need my calmest, kindest, best"

Original Poster:

Thank you, unfortunately I do not believe that his anxiety will lessen as our environment is already peaceful and fun, to the best of my ability.
Not if she doesn't read it.
Debbie Harper:
That link may help you see it differently.
Robyn Coburn:
Perhaps he needs more time with mom without the two younger siblings right there, if it is possible. I guess getting siblings is not something he had much choice in.

As much as you believe you understand how unschooling works, with the young age of the kids, no you don't - not yet. My always unschooled daughter is 17 and there are still revelations. Remember the peeling an onion analogy that was mentioned recently. There is always more to examine and learn.

Tiny example: "how to cut their hair" - how about "whether to cut their hair".

Sometimes on this group too much use of "we" by the poster can be a flag too.

Jayn suffers from anxiety now and then. She likes distraction as her coping tool. It is only in hindsight that she and I can see clues of anxiety being there in her youth. Even then it was distraction that helped her, and play acting.

Original Poster:

It is the principles that I understand, I don't claim to be an expert at all. And they do choose whether to cut their hair, it is completely their choice. My wording apparently is unsatisfactory for getting my point across in this group.
Karen James:
***I came to this group to ask about rewards and punishments***

Rather than focusing on rewards and punishments, focus on what you can do to help your son feel less anxious and be less constipated, because being less anxious will help his digestion, and being less constipated will likely help him feel less anxious. Rewards and punishments are distractions.

One of the best ways I've found to help my son feel calmer, is to work on being calmer myself. If you haven't already, maybe try meditating. Headspace is a great 10 minute a day meditation app that has helped a lot of people learn to be more mindful of their own emotions. I really like it. I find myself noticing my tension at different times throughout the day, then stopping to take a few deep breaths to help myself feel more relaxed. Deep breathing is an excellent tool for anxiety, in my opinion. Sandra has a page dedicated to breathing:
http://sandradodd.com/breathing

Smoothies can be great for helping ease constipation. Make flavours your son likes, and add a couple ingredients that will help move things along. Dried prunes or raisins work well. Grapes too. Pineapple and papaya are great for aiding digestion. Green bananas will constipate, but very ripe bananas will help ease constipation. You could freeze the smoothie mixture and make popsicles!

***irritability caused by lack of bowel movements***

Could he be irritable because he is feeling pressure? You don't need to answer that here. If you notice yourself pressuring him, overtly or subtly, try to be helpful in ways that are more comfortable for him. If he's inclined to be negatively affected by pressure and stress, I am doubtful that punishments and rewards would help. I feel they could even make matters worse.

Original Poster:

There's no pressure for him to go to the bathroom. I agree that rewards and punishments could make it worse. That's why I'm here. He won't eat one thing that you've suggested, unfortunately. I've tried changing his diet. Like I've said, I'm not lookingfor advice to get him pooping. He will go when he needs. Thank you for the headspace app recommendation. I've heard of it in the last but forgotten the name. I'll try that with him.
Jo Isaac:
===-I came to this group to ask about rewards and punishments==

This isn't a group where questions specific to one person or idea get answered. From the pinned post:

"The purpose of this group is to *analyze* family situations and ideas about unschooling in the light of radical unschooling principles. The purpose is to provide a radical unschooling mirror for those looking *specifically* for a radical unschooling response. One question answered here is "What does this look like from a radical unschooling perspective?"
If you had read this group for two years, you would have known that people here would not have recommended getting your son diagnosed. Even good therapists come with conventional advice like punishments and rewards, but that is only one of the many reasons not to get a diagnosis.

If you'd read here for two years, you would know the answer to a question about rewards and punishments - they don't work, they cause distance in relationships, not connection, love and joy.

Incentives, or 'sweetening the deal', are different to rewards, though, and incentives may or may not help in this situation - you already said the 'reward' (M & M's) isn't working anyway.

Meet him where he's at. Don't try to make him be someone he can't be right now. 5 is little. Things can and will change. If he'll go in a pull up, do that. Don't pester him about going to the toilet. Make his life as stress free and joyful as you possibly can - but that still might not change anything. I had a friend whose son often went 7-10 days without going to the toilet for much the same reasons - up until he was around 8 or 9. There was nothing she could have done to help that - that was just the way it was. Now he's 12, he doesn't do that anymore...

A link I don't think anyone brought yet - about punishments and rewards (and other things) - don't post again until you have read it (and all the others). http://sandradodd.com/interviews/naturalparenting2010
Interview with Sandra Dodd
Backup copy of an interview from August 2010 at Natural Parenting

I'll also repeat what Sandra wrote in the very first response, as the OP didn't seem to see it, or ignored it.

For at least a day, don't post.
Read those two links, a little at a time.
Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
Original Poster:
Did not ignore it, wanted to give some more background information as many of the comments were things I have already done or was already doing. And again, the reason I have him seeing a therapist is to help him and ME learn to understand his emotions. I was not in a caring environment so again, this does not come naturally to me and I don't often know the names of many of the emotions I am feeling as an adult. He is five. He is little. But that does not mean his anxiety is not real and it does not mean he does not need guidance with assistance from an outside party who does know what I am expecting as our lifestyle goes.

Original Poster:

Also, I don't want to follow a reward program. His constipation has been an ongoing thing for his entire life. It's not that he just isn't going for 7-10 days. After the third day everything about his demeanor changes. It's cancelling plans if we have them and not leaving the house along with mood swings and so many other things that a five year old should not have to live with.
Sylvia Woodman:
Stop posting now and read the links. You've been asked now by the list owner and two admins. Please.
Nicole Kenyon:
== I have had anxiety for my entire life ==

Work on your anxieties first. Kids learn by observing and doing what you do.

Original Poster:

Work in progress. Thank you.
Debbie Harper:
-=-I was not looking for advice as it pertains to my son having anxiety (which he does, and no, I will not ignore it).-=-

I didn't notice anyone suggest to ignore his anxiety. Indeed the thread reveals lots of people with compassion and helpful ideas regarding his anxiety.

-=-Rewards and punishments as it pertains to behavior that is based on anxiety taking over, irritability caused by lack of bowel movements, and how I should handle that as it pertains to a plan with his therapist, how to navigate that I am not interested in a reward system.-=-

It may help to reflect on why the insistence on therapy for him (the style of which you don't like), over working to help him and your other children to live with less stress.

Working to make the home more peaceful and happy has helped lots of families heal, and flourish with unschooling.

Original Poster:
The therapy is simply for guidance with moving through the really hard moments. She will teach us some strategies that I can't teach him myself so I will also be learning these with him. That's the piece I find important. The reward system will be around getting him to poop more which I don't agree with and will talk to her about, which is what I was hoping for guidance here on.
Jo Isaac:
==The reward system will be around getting him to poop more ==

If he can't poop more, it won't help him poop more. If he could do better, he would be doing better.

[Original Poster,] stop responding, you don't need to respond. We all understand the situation. Please read the links - if you don't want to read links about unschooling, then you are asking in the wrong group.

Debbie Harper:
-=-The therapy is simply for guidance with moving through the really hard moments.-=-

There is lots of help here with respect to hard moments: http://sandradodd.com/breathing
Breathing
When people hear "stop and smell the roses" they think of thorns, and ownership, and the cost of the roses, and whether they require more water than xeriscaping would. That's why deep breathing helps. It makes brains slow down. Although it's usually dolled up as formal meditation or chanting or yoga...

Nicole Kenyon:
==She will teach us some strategies that I can't teach him myself ==

One fundamental principle in unschooling is the difference between teach and learn. I know you got given a few links so I suggest you save this post so that you can come back to it and read one link after the other in your own time.

http://sandradodd.com/teaching/
Teaching vs. Learning

Debbie Harper:
-=-She will teach us some strategies that I can't teach him myself-=-

Is he wanting strategies? Does he want to be taught?

Would he rather be less burdened by frustration, and expectations that are hard for him to meet?
Would he rather someone to help him out of tricky spots, without fuss or drama?
Would he love more unbounded joy in his days?

Helping children have fewer "hard moments" has benefitted many unschooling families, without any need for diagnosis or therapy.


What's above (minus Debbie Harper's final post, and green side comments) appeared on facebook until it was deleted.
Things below were in side conversations.

Me/Sandra to the original poster:

By deleting your post in Radical Unschooing Info, you threw out the thoughtful writing of twenty people that was intended for ALL the readers or that group, not just for you.

Please don't ever do that again.

Other mom:
The thing is, I have read many of your posts. I am living the unschooling life as closely as I can to the ideals set by you and the long term unschoolers, the professionals of the lifestyle, if you will. I did not go to your group to have my words picked apart. Also, I find your responses to be rude and short, not compassionate or understanding. I don't appreciate that from a group of people who live a lifestyle of respect and peacefulness. Perhaps it's just a matter of your to the point and no flexibility as it pertains to the lifestyle, which I do understand. However, I deleted the post because I was becoming angry at the responses. As I'm sure you can understand, I have spent a great deal of time researching and reading all that I can about unschooling, about anxiety, and constipation. I am not a child to be scolded. Maybe your group isn't what I need, maybe it is the wrong group for me. But more likely you are the wrong person for me. No skin off your back, I'm sure. I love your writings and have respected your work. I do not like your responses. I don't need to. I will do what is best for me, so I apologize if that affects other within the group but the annoyance I felt toward the unschooling community actually took joy away from my day yesterday and today which is not fair to me or my family.
Sandra:
Things that those people wrote would have, and will, add to the joy of many other families. You threw that out, but others have sacrificed hours, already, retrieving those message, and I will spend hours putting them back out again.

You said you have been reading about unschoolling for two years, but you had been in Radical Unschooling Info for One Month.

Other mom:
That is true. I've been reading many things online and in a couple of other groups. It is much more appealing to our lifestyle than homeschooling. I apologize if you feel the need to put all of those out there. I don't disagree that they would help other families. Like I said, I was doing what was in the best interest of me. I hear that you are a lovely person and that you are enjoyable to be around. I respect your writing and your commitment and dedication to the community. I hope you can understand how from someone who is devoting their life to the well being of a family and enjoyment of life that your comments and responses come off as rude and condescending. I don't believe that is your intent.

Thank you for the time you spend for each of us. It would be nice if I hadn't felt attacked by wording. I don't think I'll be posting any concerns going forward.

Sandra:
It WOULD be nice if you hadn't felt attacked. I think if you had read the pinned post, and the intro to the group, you would not have felt attacked.

-=-I hope you can understand how from someone who is devoting their life to the well being of a family and enjoyment of life that your comments and responses come off as rude and condescending. I don't believe that is your intent.-=-

All of those people who responded have devoted their lives to the well being of their families AND they are generously sharing what they have learned with others.

My youngest is 25 and I'm still helping other people. You could help, too, by not deleting anyone else's writing in the future.

Other mom:
Sandra,
I wanted to offer an apology to you for the way I reacted over the post and the responses. I understand how this group can help and though I felt your response was cold I do feel that I have an appreciation for no "fluff" more. I will be doing further reading, as I should have done to begin with, but I wanted to acknowledge the fact that I was, frankly, an asshole to you and the community.

My defense comes in because for almost two years, before I even knew what unschooling was, I was living it without a question in my mind. My son and I had a great, healthy, connection. He was my side kick. After I had my daughter, well, our transition was very difficult and she was much more bold than he had been. I had a very difficult time understanding what she needed from me. It took me down the path I'm on and I've been trying desperately to get back there.

After reading the comments that brought out the fire within me, I clearly listened, because these have been some of the greatest days we have had in far too long. So along with my apology, I would like to thank you. And also, I'm sorry about deleting the post. I realize how great information has been taken away from many people because of my anger. -[other-mom's name]

Sandra:
Thanks for letting me know you're thinking about it.

I have a couple of comments about this:

-=-My defense comes in because for almost two years, before I even knew what unschooling was, I was living it without a question in my mind. -=-

This dismisses unschooling's beauty and complexity to say you were doing it without having heard of it. Maybe what you were doing was attachment parenting.

-=-My son and I had a great, healthy, connection. He was my side kick.-=-

He was an only child. You were with him all the time. You paid attention to him. He was your baby.

Bringing a second child in ruined his life. Parents who have a second child do well to realize that and to try to make up for it. Blaming the older child for not being as they were before entirely ignores the role of the parent in upending his idyllic life.

I was a firstborn. I still remember the arrival of my sister, when I was three. I remember LOTS about it. Too much. And my mom clearly loved her better, forever after that. My dad tried to be nicer to me to make up for it, but that would make my mom angry, too.

Other mom:
Yes, attachment parenting. I've heard "unschooling is an extension of attachment parenting" at one point and I thought it seemed fitting though, maybe not? You saying "ruined his life" had me COMPLETELY choked up right now because it really did. I realized that the moment he told me to "go away" when his sister was not even 2 months old. It hurts my heart.

I started experiencing a great deal of anxiety about a year and a half ago, after introducing our 3rd child in the mix. It is one of those things, you truly can't begin to understand how it changes you until it is too late. I started distancing myself because I felt as if I were failing everyone. My husband and I have really gotten lost and it has affected our dynamic.

I was the first born as well. I don't remember my brother being born but my sister was born 11 years after I was and I was forced to spend all of my time with her and held a lot of hatred for my mom for that, and many other things. I tend to beat myself up over so much and when people will say "they will be fine, you're a great mom" it infuriates me. I'm not doing my best. I want to be.


End of quotes, beginning of follow-up commentary.

This was a lot of work. I could have let it all go into the ether, lost, but those who commented thoughtfully wrote some good things.

The exchange between me and the original mom is interesting, as she starts off telling me my coldness made her angry, and ends up saying that when people say things will be fine and that she's a great mom, it infuriates her.

What those have in common is that this mom is easily angered. She coudn't take criticism, and can't take "support" (though "you're a great mom" isn't supportive when someone's having problems).

Because that wasn't the question she asked, it might make her angry again if she reads this, but having worked so long on this, having printed out all of Jo's screen captures, and all of Debbie's cut-and-paste, and getting them all in the right order and double checking names and full texts, formatting all this html (still with some formatting glitches, which I will continue to work on), what I know is that what is important is not the delicate feelings of one mom who is causing problems for administrators, friends, and readers of my forum, but what is important is the potential for that mom and a few hundred others to learn and grow, to be better moms, and to provide more peaceful lives for all their current and future children.

I'm not going to apologize for knowing that lots of people will benefit from reading good ideas, even if the orignal poster bats it all away and tries to destroy it.


Mental Health Thoughts on Changing Deschooling (with the story of the zen teacher and the tea cup)

Negativity (avoidance of)