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Parenting Anxiety Indecision

By Debra Kissen

Parenting Anxiety Indecision

Ugh…Where to begin with the morning play back? Why oh why is it so hard to get out the door and to camp on time? This is obviously rhetorical, as there are 8 billions obstacles getting in the way of this goal. There are the poorly timed philosophical inquiries, such as when my inquisitive little 4 year old asked me what would be worse, if he had to go to jail or if he went to the hospital, as I was attempting to brush his teeth.  There are the unexpected quiet mornings, when everyone sleeps late and I am way too thrilled to interupt the unexpected mini vacation, even though I know I will pay a steep price for my respite. And the list goes on and on, of road blocks to efficiently exiting the home, with young children in tote. This morning, the culprit was the ever so trying “I cant decide what to wear”.  

I made the questionnable parenting decision, a few years ago, to let my strong willed five year old Alexandra choose her own outfits. With a head strong child, you must pick your battles (violence is a NO WAY, cow boy boots in the summer is acceptable). Little Alexandra is not only strong willed, she also has some OCD/just right tendencies.  

What made today all the more challenging was that Alexandra decided she wanted to try out a sporty look, as the girl counselors at her camp always wear sporty clothing. Alexandra normally opts for “girly” clothing, so she was testing new waters with this voyage into athletic garb.  After 20 minutes of trying on clothing, whining, getting, frustrated, and entering near tantrum mode, I informed Alexandra that I was leaving without her and packed my son up in the car while attempting to practice my deep breathing.

Alexandra came running out, in one of her standard girly outfits, with a look of mild hatred and defeat. It is hard in these moments to remember that Alexandra is truly trying to function.  Her brain is sending her a signal, “get it perfect or it is unacceptable”, which keeps her stuck in indecision.  As a parent, it is important for me to keep in mind the true discomfort she is feeling while compassionately pushing her forward. After enough environmental nudges, her brain will eventually learn how to unstuck itself but for now, the burden is on me, my husband, and any key stakeholder in her life.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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