My 11-year-old son is an inspiration to me. He has worked hard to be doing well in public school, academically and socially. About 16 months ago my wife, Casherie, and I decided to pull him out of public school and enroll him in an online charter school; he was missing about 60% of school days because of anxiety.
His anxiety was so intense that he had a difficult time falling asleep at night and he was waking up exhausted, with stomach aches. At first, we thought there was something medically wrong with him, so we took him to the doctor to have him checked out. Fortunately, the doctor said he was a healthy 10-year-old, but that left us perplexed about how to help him. Have you ever felt helpless as a parent? Not knowing what to do for your child? My wife and I were there…for a long while. It’s a heartbreaking feeling.
What made things worse is that I was going through my own experience of anxiety at the same time. There was a few months that I had to take medication so I could cope with my own anxiety, but as a parent, I definitely did not want to put my child on medication.
My son is now in 6th grade, attending public school and a member of the student council. How did we go from him almost needing to repeat the 5th grade, not wanting to go with us to social events because of a his debilitating anxiety, to being back in school with straight A’s and on the student council?
We learned great things along the way and I want to share them with you. As a bonus, I have better coped with my own anxiety as well and haven’t needed medications for about a year.
There are 5 main ways we helped our son decrease his anxiety over a 5-month period.
1. To start off, we had to figure out which type of anxiety my son was experiencing. Did you know that there are 6 types of anxiety? His main symptoms were feeling tense and nervous, especially around other people. With people who have pure anxiety without any depressive symptoms, we learned that a high protein diet may be best. We have all heard the benefits and disadvantages of one diet over another. I had thought that more protein was always good for people. In most cases that is true, but if someone has a lot of obsessive or over-focused thoughts, a higher carb diet may be best. It didn’t seem like our son was having over-focused thoughts, so we went with a higher protein diet that benefits the majority of anxiety types.
We replaced high carbohydrate breakfasts (cereal and bake goods) with higher protein (eggs and meat). He isn’t the biggest fan of eggs and meat every morning, so we started slowly and starting switching breakfasts up every few days. The biggest change in his diet was dinner. Luckily, he doesn’t mind meat but then again eating meat every night wasn’t his favorite thing either.
We have had to be creative with adding protein in our diet. He likes the protein shake mix from Costco with peanut butter. (We almost have it similar to taste like the Peanut Butter Moo’d smoothie from Jamba Juice). Stocking our fridge with Gogurt and string cheese has also been a nice change from once having a pantry full of Hostess cupcakes and chips. Of course, we still have carbs in our meals, but our focus is to always have one thing high in protein at every meal.
We believe that changing our meals to focus on more protein has been a big help for my son and the whole family being at ease. Of course, there is not one magic solution to decreasing anxiety, but the combination of having a protein focused diet with the four other techniques have made a world of difference.
We will discuss the remaining 4 ways we helped our son decrease his anxiety at our special workshop next workshop on Thursday, April 26. Our goal is to help you make the changes you need to teach your child to cope with their anxiety. We hope to see you there.
If you missed the workshop, we offer a free consultation to discuss your individual situation and help you decide if we are the right fit for you or your child. Please call 801-855-7999 or schedule your appointment online.