Story: Brady

This is a ANXIETY story – facing your fears and then distracting.

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Laura’s son, Brady was an embarrassment. Thrown out of playgroup for bullying the other children, Laura had to look after him all the time. He had the loudest tantrums you could imagine. At home, he was not quite so bad, except he would demand to wear certain clothes and if he didn’t want to eat something, he wouldn’t. It was in public that he was worse. It would start with a whinge about something – usually something he wanted and if he didn’t get it, the whinge would escalate into a full-blown yell, accompanied sometimes with things thrown through the air. Sometimes he would kick out at Laura. She was at her wits end.  She made sure, if Brady asked for a drink, sweets or an ice cream, she would do her best to buy it as quickly as possible, before he started yelling and everyone looked at her. Laura went out with Brady less and less; she would try to find someone to look after him – anything  rather than suffer  the humiliation of one of his tantrums.

One day, Laura needed to go to the supermarket. There was no one to take care of Brady, so she took him along with her. Laura was tired and feeling unwell. Brady announced he wanted some sweets and when she refused he started one of his mega tantrums. Suddenly, the whole situation turned into a tidal wave of feeling. She took Brady’s surprised face in her  hands, looked him in the eyes and said very loudly and firmly: “STOP!” Brady was so surprised, that he did. Then Laura pointed to some strawberries and with surprise and delight, suggested they had some. Brady’s attention was drawn to the strawberries.

The next day, they were in the car. Brady decided he needed a drink and started to whinge. “STOP!” shouted Laura and pointed to a man at the traffic lights with a funny hat. Brady looked at the man, and forgot about the drink. They played a game of spotting people wearing hats.

The next day, they were on the bus. Brady decided he wanted a different seat and started to whinge. “STOP!” said Laura, before he could get going. She looked him in the eyes and suggested they play “I spy” with colours. So they did.

Now of course, I can’t tell you that Brady was a reformed character because life isn’t like that, but I can tell you that Laura began to feel as if she’d turned a corner.

Hilary Farmer