on therapy

A couple of months ago, I posted about the fact that the Bee’s anger management issues were coming to a head, and that we had found a therapist that we liked. I thought I’d come back and update on progress so far.

Here’s a news flash–this shit is hard.

The Good

The Bee has made substantial progress in controlling her violent outbursts. We’ve had many fewer instances of shoving, and have gone 2 months without having anything in the house broken (fingers crossed that I’m not jinxing that just by writing it down). Our ‘active listening’ training as organizers has definitely paid off—having the ability to just say, “I hear you saying that X makes you angry” has helped her feel listened to, and that has made a big difference.

The Bee really likes the therapist (and I like her more and more every time), and wants to go talk to her, and (so far, at least) is willing to hear things from her that she won’t listen to if landisdad and I say them. (Most of these things include the rationale for why we won’t send her little brother to a Turkish prison camp while she finishes growing up.)

The Bad

On the other hand, the Potato seems to have taken the Bee’s dialing-it-down-a-notch as a cue to launch his own personal rebellion. I’m not sure if he’s decided that it’s his turn to be obnoxious, or if it’s that in our somewhat-calmer environment, he’s more noticeable when he’s obnoxious. Either way, he’s clearly testing more boundaries and pushing more buttons than ever before.

There was one session where the therapist wanted to see the Bee and the Potato together. She put them into a situation where they were going to get in a fight, so she could watch them fight and talk to them about how to handle difficult interactions, both together and one-on-one. When she asked the Potato what he liked about getting into fights with his sister, he told her, “she pays attention to me.” Not what I wanted to hear, exactly, but good to know, nonetheless.

The Ugly

I’m coming to the realization that we will never have a calm, quiet household where everyone gets along in perfect harmony. While I don’t think that we are anywhere near where we can be, after more therapy, the reality is that we have a house of yellers. In addition to that, the Bee seems to have some kind of low-grade anxiety disorder, and we will always need to be mindful of the various things that trigger that anxiety. Unfortunately, she tends to manifest her anxiety by being rude to people, including me. Which is not exactly sympathy-inducing.

We’re working on it.


July 6, 2009. parenting ain't easy.


  1. chichimama replied:

    Glad to hear that it is helping. And fingers crossed that nothing gets broken in the near future!

  2. Susan replied:

    Sounds like there’s a lot of hard work and reflection going on there. Good that you can see progress.

  3. Jen replied:

    Every one of my husband’s siblings plus his mother, his neice and his nephew have a low- to medium-grade anxiety disorder. (Of couse my family is PERFECT. Ha. Anyway.) They’ve learned to deal with it in different ways. Therapy helped each of them, for one, and some take medication. Also my MIL has the most peaceful, Zen-like house; my SIL and neice are artists; my BIL surfs at least one day a week.

    I find it interesting how they’ve structured their lives to reduce their level of anxiety. They give themselves a lot of temporal space. Having too much on their respective plates — a lot of activities/obligations scheduled — sends them off the deep end.

    Good luck with all this. Here’s hoping the Bee comes to understand her own triggers.

  4. She Started It replied:

    I’m glad you’re getting some answers, and hope the progress continues.

  5. Library Lady replied:

    Well, I don’t need to tell you what’s going on in MY house!

    I have thought in the past about getting SC counseling. And after the past week, I am thinking about it again. Not too sure where to start though…

  6. Jody replied:

    Anxiety and anger-management are big issues for at least one of the kids in our family, too. We did some therapy, we’re considering doing some more. I’m glad to hear your update. Sometimes I think the hardest thing for me is realizing that I’m never going to handle it exactly right, every time, either.

  7. jackie replied:

    Anxiety is certainly woven through the fabric of my family too, and I think perfectionism is connected to that for a lot of us– the knowledge that nothing will ever be exactly how we want it to be can trigger anxious feelings, which is so frustrating.

    Doing the hard work is all you can do, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that you all don’t deserve a few (million) rounds of applause for *doing* the hard work.

  8. the five-year mark « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] This year, for the first time, our kids went to day camp together. I took a solo trip with the kids to visit my mom. I was glad that the Bee was in therapy before we took that trip, and while things aren’t perfect, they’re slowly getting better. […]

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