Sunday, February 3, 2013

May the Wind be at Your Back

My oldest hates the sound of the wind when he goes to sleep.  Because we live in Florida (aka the land without hills), we get our fair share of wind blowing on our windows.  Today as I read his last book before his nap, I saw the telltale fear in his eyes.  The wind was whistling especially hard at his window and he didn't like it a bit.  "Don't worry, honey, it's just the wind.  It can't hurt you.  Give me a hug and a kiss.  Night!"

I rushed out the door hoping he would be able to sleep.  I hummed as I walked downstairs thinking about the stories I would tell all of you until I heard, "Mommy!!!" It was my oldest telling me the wind still wouldn't stop.  I went back in and we worked together to decide which sound from his white noise machine would work the best.  We picked "wind" in hopes of drowning out the sound outside. Fight wind with wind, right?  With another hug and kiss, I was out the door and on my way to my laptop.

"Mommy, it isn't working. I can still hear it," said a little voice from behind me.  I had been so immersed in writing that I didn't even hear him come down.  "OK," I said, "Let's figure this out."  I remembered an article I read that said you should never placate them.  Telling them it's OK doesn't help assuage their fears, it only makes them feel as if you are telling them their fears are not real or legitimate.  The article suggested doing a strategy session with them.  Tell them what they can do when the scary thing happens (real or imagined).  I decided it was worth a shot.

"What do you think would scare away the wind when you hear it?" I asked.  "Maybe I could just yell at it," he suggested.  "Not a bad idea," I told him.  "You know what else?  Wind noise can't bother you when you are sleeping.  Once you are asleep, you can't hear it.  When you go into your room, yell out, 'GO AWAY WIND!' then close your eyes and try to sleep."

He marched right upstairs and yelled, "GO AWAY WIND!" with all the bravado he could muster then curled up under the covers.  He was asleep in minutes.

It never ceases to amaze me how much we are alike our children.  If I am afraid of something, I want to know what I can do if I am faced with it.  I don't want someone telling me I shouldn't be afraid.  I already know that to be true.  But I can't help how I feel and neither can they.  I wonder if putting ourselves in their shoes may be the answer to this and many other parenting dilemmas to come.  After all, kids are people too.

How can you help your kids develop proactive strategies to fight their fears?  No idea is too silly, as long as it is theirs.

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