My wife told me she just couldn't do it anymore. "It's too hard," she said. "Every time I drop him off, the tears, the yelling, and the crying. I just can't take him to school anymore. We've got to figure something out."
We had talked about different things, from counseling to medication to other options.
For the time being, our solution was that I would drop him off at school. For some reason, his reactions to his anxiety seemed to be less when dad dropped him off.
Any parent who has experienced this knows how difficult it is to deal with the intensity of the emotions on a daily basis.
This was especially challenging for me, because I struggled with this as well. All the way until I was 19, any new change was especially difficult. My heart broke for him every day, because I knew how powerless he felt.
When he started kindergarten, we were living on a small island in the gulf of Alaska, and the community didn’t have the resources to offer a lot of help.
We did all kinds of things to try and help, meditation apps, calming techniques, praying, blessings, and more, and nothing really seemed to work.
When we moved to Fairbanks, we were ready to get more serious, but then he took care of this himself.
Before I get to what actually happened, let me back up a bit.
I read a book when I was 21 called “Write it down. Make it Happen.” Actually, I think I just read the first chapter or so. That was all I needed. It talks about the power of writing things down to make them come to fruition.
Well, I wrote down a bunch of goals that I wanted to accomplish when I turned 30, and guess what? I accomplished them all.
I’ve been a big believer in goals for a long time, and this really solidified what I knew.
So, I decided to start setting goals with my family each week. My four kids would set their own goals every week, and my wife and I would set our goals. We share them with each other and track them on a piece of paper.
Eventually, that has now grown into yearly and monthly goals we set with each other, and help hold each other accountable.
Back to my son. We had set goals as a family for a couple years, and after we moved to Fairbanks, he started taking an interest in setting meaningful goals for himself.
It started with little goals.
We are pretty strict that we don’t tell the kids what goals they should set, but rather help them set their own goals.
So, my son spent some time setting little goals like play with certain toys each day, or do his chores when he first got up, or play Minecraft.
Then, one day, it happened.
“My goal this week is to go to school without complaining.”
My wife and I looked at each other in stunned silence. For over two years, this had been a battle, and now, he was saying he wasn’t going to complain.
We played it cool, and said, “Good goal. Let’s see how it goes.”
Honestly, we didn’t think he would do it.
But sure enough, he got out of the car on Monday, without a single complaint. And each day after that, he has done the same.
I’m not going to lie, having some AMAZING teachers who really cared about him and helped him has been a really powerful experience. But the thing that really made the difference has been him setting his own goal to be in control of his life.
Click here to download our goal-setting template so you can start setting goals with your family.