Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Mind Over Stinkbug

I can’t be the only person who struggles with stinkbugs. They are prehistoric looking, difficult to get rid of and well, stinky.  While I’m not wild about them, my daughter is totally freaked by them.  Any time she spots one, she begs me to get rid of it.  Inevitably, she asks me at the most inconvenient times; like at 10:30 at night when I’m just drifting off to sleep or when I’m running out the door, late for an appointment.  The “what if’s” of her anxiety have paralyzed her into inaction.

“There is no way I can do it.  What if it wriggles free and crawls up my arm?”
“What if I don’t get rid of it, and it finds its way into my bed tonight?”
“What if it flies away and gets caught in my hair?”

No matter how much reassurance I give her, “That’s not going to happen, sweetie. I’m sure its dead already.” Or how I minimize, “It’s not going to hurt you.  Stinkbugs don’t bite.” Or how I plead with her, “Just ignore it.  It will be gone by the morning,” she wears me down and it’s just a lot easier to get rid of the darn thing.

The thing is, it’s not really easier. I’m not doing my daughter any favors by continuing to take care of this stinkbug problem for her.  She wasn’t becoming any less afraid of them.  If anything, my helping her avoid stinkbugs was only making her more afraid of them and more insecure in her own ability to deal with the little buggers.  So, tonight I walked her through my stinkbug removal methodology, but I refused to get rid of it for her.  She put up a fuss and started down the “what if’s” vortex, but this time I didn’t do my usual. I didn’t try to talk her out of her anxiety. I didn’t try to reassure, minimize, plead or fix it.  I simply said, “You know what to do.  And I know you can do it.”  And, after a bit, she did. With a whoop and a grin from ear to ear, my daughter said good-bye to Mr. Stinkbug and all the fear he represented.

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