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Operation SMFC

April 9, 2010

When I was a kid I used to do this weird thing with my eyes where I’d open and shut them really hard when I was nervous.  My parents deemed it my “blinking.”  They’d say, “Oh, there goes Ameena blinking again!” And they’d mimic me.  I’m fairly certain Dr. Phil would say that making fun of me wasn’t the most effective way to get me to stop, but I don’t blink anymore so I guess maybe Dr. Phil doesn’t have all the answers.  

Anyway, history is repeating itself because Maya has been doing this weird coughing thing lately.   When I ask her why she keeps coughing she shrugs her shoulders and says, “I can’t help it Mama.”  How sad is that?  I notice that when I’m reading her a book or we’re practicing her writing she’ll be hacking away, but when we get to the park and she’s playing with her friends there isn’t a cough in sight.  Her teachers say they don’t notice it either.  So I took Maya to the doctor for a professional opinion and the doctor said that since there were no signs of infection or illness Maya’s coughing is probably just a habit that we should ignore.  Easier said than done.  It drives me nuts!  Even Ali, one of the most patient people on the planet finally exploded the other day and told Maya she had to knock it off.  Her response? 

She coughed.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that Ali and I are stressing her out, hence her nervous habit.  Thus begins operation “Stop Maya From Coughing.” 

Operation SMFC started off well yesterday.  We counted to 100 together on the way to school and I managed not to freak out because she forgot a few numbers here and there.  At sign-in time I praised her progress with her penmanship instead of criticizing her “Ns.”  And at the park after school I didn’t remind Maya that her chin injury was a result of running in the sandy area – something I’ve told her NOT to do only about 5,000 times.

Since a burger and fries can cure pretty much anything, we took Maya to In-n-Out hoping for a miraculous recovery.  From the coughing and the chin injury.

We were doing well until Ali got on the phone and Maya and I got into an argument about her picking the tomatoes out of her burger.  The coughing started up again so I shut up.  I also didn’t remark that her arteries were in overdrive when she ate 1.5 burgers and half of her fries.  Or when she asked if she could have dessert.  Or television time.  And as a result the coughing was at a minimum the rest of the evening and this morning as well.  I’m hoping that the weekend continues in the same way. 

So I might get her to stop coughing but in the process I might end up with a kid addicted to fast food, television, sugar, and the word “no.”  I’m not sure what the lesser of two evils is here!

Did/do you have a nervous habit?

39 Comments leave one →
  1. actorsdiet permalink
    April 9, 2010 7:57 pm

    crack my knuckles, clear my throat, touch my face…yes yes and yes.

    i have a picture of myself from when i was maya’s age with a bandaid on my chin too. guess that’s a sensitive area.

  2. April 9, 2010 8:03 pm

    Thankfully I got over my nervous habit, because it would be very embarrassing if I still sucked my thumb. I forget what age I finally stopped doing it…but I remember it was because my first few teeth were growing in and I was giving myself overbite by sucking so much. My dentist told me I was going to look like Bugs Bunny with buck teeth if I didn’t stop, and I was really scared of looking like a rabbit. I can’t believe I was already so vain at that age, but hey, it worked. Later in life I had some other awful nervous habits (nail biting, anyone?) but I got past those too. I think all of these things fade with time..usually only to be replaced by a new nervous habit.

  3. April 9, 2010 9:32 pm

    I’ve seen kids with that habit and it eventually goes away – can be frustrating too! I play with my hair constantly, I have to consciously tell myself to stop!

  4. April 9, 2010 9:40 pm

    My daughter has nail biting and cuticle biting habits and sometimes her fingers would bleed. She cannot help it when she is watching TV or when she gets nervous. It does not go away by simply ignoring. I am not sure what will make her stop. I tried yoga/deep breaths/stretching/massage and her holding her bunny. She still does it unconsciously. Sort of like forgetting her 3-point finger pencil grip. I hope you will find a way to get Maya to forget her coughs. Did she do that with her grandparents around?

    • April 10, 2010 9:46 am

      My in-laws have mentioned she coughs but I don’t think it is as much as she does when Ali or I are around her!

      I hope your daughter stops biting her nails…ignoring doesn’t seem to help! You are totally right.

  5. April 9, 2010 10:11 pm

    I don’t have children (unless two dogs count), so I’m always amazed when other people decide to go that route.
    On a random note – can you send me an email? I’m an idiot and can’t figure out how to email you directly…

  6. April 9, 2010 11:07 pm

    Yes! I did the blinking thing too!!! Now I just have eye twitches when I’m stressed. It sucksssss!!!

  7. April 9, 2010 11:08 pm

    If I’m sitting, I have a bad nervous habit of bouncing one of my legs up and down. If I’m standing I’d probably find a chair just so I can sit and bounce.

  8. April 10, 2010 12:16 am

    nervous habit..saying Um!
    However in prior sales jobs, i had to not say it b/c it sounds so childish, and i broke free from it 🙂

  9. April 10, 2010 3:35 am

    I found this really interesting, actually – I never would have thought coughing to be a nervous habit! Not to mention I love your writing.
    My nervous habit (though, I had to think about it, because of course it’s one of those things you don’t even realize you do! haha) I think would be to “pick” at my nails. Gross, I know. And if I’m ever holding a piece of paper, by the time ten minutes is up it will have been torn to shreds. I just play with things that are in my hands I guess, haha.
    Sounds like you’ve made good progress with operation SMFC, though – hopefully the rest of the weekend is a goodone for you guys!

  10. April 10, 2010 4:30 am

    I start messing with the hair… and tapping my fingers. It’s so annoying because I catch myself doing it ALL the time.

  11. April 10, 2010 5:38 am

    It’s SO hard not to try to draw attention to a habit that gets out of control. I tend to play with my fingers when I get nervous (in a really obvious way) and that drives my husband nuts. He always draws it to my attention, but then that drives me nuts. 😛 So I guess we can’t win.

    How is the Toastmasters?

  12. Danielle permalink
    April 10, 2010 5:38 am

    That’s an interesting habit to have…coughing is pretty uncomfortable (for me) lol. My brothers used to have this awful habit of chewing on things. They would chew holes in their shirts and go through the video game controller cords once a week

  13. April 10, 2010 5:48 am

    I twirl my hair when I get nervous; it’s something i’ve been doing for as long a I can remember, which is probably a big part of the reason that I could never cut off my locks. I also tend to bite the inside of my lip when my anxiety really starts to skyrocket.

    I used to do the coughing thing, and it still shows up every now any again, but it’s manageable. Maya is definitely right though; we can’t help it!

  14. April 10, 2010 6:15 am

    A nervous habit I had growing up was biting my nails, ewww!!! I constantly bit my nails and my mom constantly bribing me with hopes she would stop the bad habit. Her best method I would have to say was using money for bargaining, I would get $10 for every week I did not bite my nails. Maybe bargaining with money can work with Maya, haha!

    I don’t bite my nails much anymore but after all the stressful studying for the LSAT I picked up a really weird tick… I play with my eyelashes while I read! Weird, right?

  15. April 10, 2010 6:20 am

    Aww poor Maya 😦 Kids are so stressed out these days. I didn’t even know what stress meant when I was little!!
    Gah I have tons of nervous habits now that I think about it… I get nervous really easily ha. I play with my hair, which is the big thing and it’s very obvious. And I tend to babble and say um… and I fidget in any way I can.

  16. traynharder23 permalink
    April 10, 2010 6:23 am

    oh no! good luck on the stop maya from coughing operation! i hope it goes okay! haha i wonder if maya would like me! i’m OKAY with kids. maybe during summer, i’ll baby sit her for you.

    did you go to the in n out in westwood?

  17. April 10, 2010 6:41 am

    I think I do something weird with my tongue that makes an odd noise when I get nervous. It mostly happens on the phone and Andrew always makes fun of me when I’m doing it.

    Good luck with SMFC! 😉

  18. April 10, 2010 7:22 am

    wow, i think it is great that you guys figured out it was a nervous habit. my daughter sometimes cough for no reason too and we thought it was for attention. you have made me look at this in a whole new light, so thanks!

  19. April 10, 2010 8:02 am

    I can’t sit still and whenever I at movies and I have my legs crossed I am constantly moving my leg up and down…it drives me mom absolutely CRAZY!

  20. April 10, 2010 9:46 am

    I was pretty bad about twirling my hair! I would even twirl it at the dinner table and my dad hated it! I also had a really weird habit of having do things “evenly.” Like if moved my right arm, I would have to move my left arm the same way. Or, if I rubbed the left side of my nose, I would have to rub the right side too! All of those habits are gone now though! My boyfriend will sit there and peel the skin off of his thumb…he only does this when he’s nervous or stressed so I can always tell when he’s upset about something! His poor thumb has no fingerprint 😦

  21. April 10, 2010 10:33 am

    that sounds so funny…like an attention grabber habit as opposed to an nervous one.

    silly girl.

    she loves the lime light…much like my JJ

    we haven’t noticed any “ticks” yet but don’t blink…he may develop one. He typically breaks out into some guitar solo act if he’s not getting the spotlight!

    kid is hysterical and Maya is just the sweetest! love her bandaid chin

    have a great day !!!

  22. April 10, 2010 2:01 pm

    haha! I had a chin injury like Mayas for falling when I was little, I can still remember it.

    I clinch my fists and tense up my shoulders big time when I am nervous.

  23. whydeprive permalink
    April 10, 2010 2:43 pm

    I used to do the same thing with my eyes! I grew out of it though, so Maya probably will too.

  24. April 10, 2010 3:29 pm

    I’m supervising my sister as she naps, so I snuck online 🙂 So good to see you today! Anyway, Maya is so funny! You know, I cough when I’m nervous too! I also cough when I’m cold for some reason. I think it’s like saying “ummm” — it allows for a socially acceptable pause to buy more time in an uncomfortable situation. I also play with my hair a lot when I’m nervous, which makes me look really ditzy, but oh well.

  25. highonhealthy permalink
    April 10, 2010 5:15 pm

    I don’t think I have any nervous habits.. when I’m nervous I usually get pretty calm and my face kind of gets this blank look on it. Actually, I think my face has the blank look on it most of the time so that’s just a habit and not a result of me being nervous. I can definitely see how the coughing would get annoying though so hopefully Maya learns to stop.. or find a quieter nervous habit. 😉

  26. April 10, 2010 9:09 pm

    I used to do a very strange thing where Id open my mouth really wide and then pop my jaw–Im sure i looked like an idiot doing it.

  27. April 11, 2010 1:41 am

    Nail biting!! Picked it up as a kid and then stopped when I started using nail polish. I wanted those sophisticated nails so I stopped.
    Now when I am really nervous, it’s the loo for me!! The visits are more frequent then. I think you should place her in the company of her age group more often. Since she doesn’t cough in school or the playground. Or mebbe she’s sensing/imagining some stress in the family.

  28. April 11, 2010 5:12 am

    I clench my jaw when I’m nervous/stressed!

  29. onelittlejill permalink
    April 11, 2010 6:30 am

    I tap. But I also have an eye tick and through life teachers and friends would make fun of me. Teacher often thought I was being funny and my friends just thought IT was funny. I still do it, only because it is a tick that I cannot help, but because I am aware of it, I usually turn my head or face down when I am nervous.

  30. traynharder23 permalink
    April 11, 2010 8:41 am

    hahah nah, i’m not much of a in n outer- i just recognized it beacuse i’ve been in there a couple of times with guy friends that want fast food. =D

    now i know you’re in westwood sometimes…….=D

    hahah yep, that’s D. way older than me tho! =D

  31. April 11, 2010 12:16 pm

    I still twist my fingers together when I get nervous… 🙂 I know I say this soooo many times, 🙂 but you are truly such a wonderful mom for working so hard to help Maya overcome her nervous habit – she’s such a lucky girl! 🙂

  32. April 11, 2010 2:16 pm

    Oh my goodness! My 6-year-old niece does something similar — it’s cough that sounds like a sneeze but is enough to drive a sane person crazy after hearing it about 3 times, lol! I hope Operation SMFC goes well!

  33. April 12, 2010 3:21 am

    Nervous habit: obsessive Blackberry checking, definitely. Lame habit, too.

    I hope Maya’s chin is much better soon!!!

  34. April 12, 2010 10:40 am

    That sushi place looks like good fun!
    My nervous habit: cleaning (i dont feel compelled to clean any other time–but i do clean cause a messy house makes my hubby cranky.)

  35. April 12, 2010 2:09 pm

    How strange! I have never heard of coughing before. I bet it will go away eventually. In a few years? 😛

    I do have nervous habits, but they are disgusting and bad… picking scabs, pulling out hair, eating too much food. Yep. Gross.

  36. April 15, 2010 4:50 am

    My daughter does this too!!! Oh, it drives me crazy. I hope it isn’t the result of my explaining the dangers of refined carbs too often? 🙂
    I didn’t have any nervous habits as a child, unless you count vomiting and talking too fast, in that order.
    Love your blog!


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