Parenting with Empathy for Separation Anxiety

Anxiety and understanding it better.

Posted by anxietyandschool on June 2, 2011

The below article is a recollection of my days in elementary school. I write this article so parents of children with anxiety can try and understand why their child starts to cry at 3 the day before school or why they cannot talk to anyone while at school. I went to school over twenty years ago when children didn’t receive the help they needed and teachers and professionals did not understand anxiety. My symptoms may be different then someone else’s or may be similar. My daughter finds it hard to talk and feels frozen in her spot when overwhelmed. She stands still with her hands at her side and her head down. We call it her shutdown stand. She is just shutting down when feeling pushed to do something that is a big challenge for her. Over time I begin to desensitize to my class and interact with the other children keeping my big secret that I am an anxious child.

It is Sunday afternoon around 3:00 p.m. and I am beginning to feel waves of sickness come over me. I feel sad and like crying. I know that tomorrow I will have to go to school and I feel too scared to go. I watch TV to try and feel better. My mom is now cooking dinner and I know that I will soon have to try to eat dinner, bath and prepare for bed. I feel sick and am not sure how I am going to eat at all. We sit down for dinner and I pick at my food. After my bath I crawl into bed crying and feeling like I must have the flu. My parents tell me that it is just nerves. I lay in bed crying and feeling as if I may throw up waiting to fall asleep. I am sure I have the flu! Morning arrives and I am crying and feeling out of control with fear. Breakfast is a complete waste of time and my mom makes me hot chocolate and packs my lunch. I leave the house feeling very sick and may have even thrown up or had diarrea before leaving. I feel as if I cannot possibly make it through the day and wonder why my parents are doing this to me.

I arrive at school and put my coat away and sit at my desk. The next 2 to 3 hours will consist of sweating, my heart pounding and I feel very sick wondering if I will throw up. The teacher is talking and I can barely understand what she is saying. It is as if she is far away and sounds tin like. I have my head in my hands and am in my own little world of anxiety. I notice the other kids getting out a book and look for mine. The bell for recess rings and with weak legs I walk outside to stand and watch the other kids scream, run and play. The sounds around me sound a hundred times louder than what they are and the screaming feels as if it is jolting me. The bell rings and I go back to my desk. I know that once I am at my desk I will be fine. Around 11:00 a.m. I start to feel better and can listen to what is going on in the class.

I dread lunch and having to try to look interested in what the other children are doing and eat my lunch very slowly finding it hard to swallow. No one takes interest in me. It is as if no one can see me. It is a nice day and we have to go outside again.

After lunch, my teacher is irritated with me. I wonder why. I not disturbing the class or even talking to anyone. I begin to cry and am sent to the coat room. I feel very sad. I have to sit at the front of the class because it is thought that I cannot hear. The teacher talks in an exaggerated slow way with me as if I am deaf. My day ends and I run all the way home. I am instantly relieved as I enter the door with a big smile on my face because I am finally home. I will wake the next day and relive my day of horror all over again. What is wrong with me.

I would like to say that this is what happens to a child with anxiety with no support. There is a better way. With understanding and support anxiety can be overcome.

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Techniques for bullying

Posted by anxietyandschool on May 27, 2011

I am excited to announce that I have finished my special edition on bullying for The Anxious Child. This issue is for all ages and gives practical advice for survival on the playground as well as a link for a school wide anti-bullying program. Thanks to mindmotivations for their informative article about what bullying is and approaches on how to handle bullying. Here is the link …

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Anxiety Treatments and a personal story

Posted by anxietyandschool on May 25, 2011

I was excited to have had a good year for my daughter. I have been reminded after the spring break how anxiety can be triggered off and you can find yourself feeling as if you have to start over or take a major step backwards. All of my suggestions work and I just want to let you know that it takes time and patience. There is no cure or instant fix. When you notice things getting ramped up, listen to your child’s story of the day closely. Look for clues that maybe creating a build up for anxiety. Talk to your child’s teacher and see if there have been any major changes in the classroom such as a shuffle in the seating arrangement or change in friendships. If there are changes, remember to take a step back and move forward slowly. For example, if your child’s desk has been moved to be with new kids in the class, be sure that a familiar child is nearby. Moving a child away from his or her peers across the room may be all it takes to cause anxiety. Keep in mind that as the school year comes to an end, it can cause anxiety. Just knowing that there will be a new teacher and kids next September can trigger anxiety. Remember to treat the anxiety and not the negative behaviour. For example, if your child cries and does not smile for the day, treat the anxiety at the door by reminding your child to take a breath and breathe out slowly. Do not punish the child for crying as this behaviour will vanish as the anxiety goes away. Always be positive and loving. Remember one day at a time – one step at a time.

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Cognitive Approaches for Anxiety – The Anxious Child

Posted by anxietyandschool on May 4, 2011

I have finished publication 2 for The Anxious Child. The publication covers cognitive techniques to help your child control anxiety. Cognitive techniques covered were breathing techniques, abstract thinking and relaxation CDs. I also added an article about hypnosis CDs. I have tried this approach for myself and found it helpful. The article addresses hypnosis for children and several links to purchase CDs.

The link for The Anxious Child is

I am working on a bullying publication and hope to have it out in a couple of weeks.

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Preparing for Kindergarten. Should I start now?

Posted by anxietyandschool on May 2, 2011

Yes, the sooner you start the easier it will be for your child to enter school. The Anxious Child gives tips on systematic desensitization (a behavioural therapy) used to help the brain to adjust to its environment. This is a good start for helping your child adjust to going to school. Going to parks, groups for children 1 – 6 for both children and parents to attend is a great place to practice the skills taught in Publication 1. Explaining to your child what anxiety is helpful too. A Child’s Story – Going to School with Anxiety is a story about a little girl going to school and how she dealt with her anxiety and enjoyed school. Preparing in advance with a psychologist is a good idea as some schools will require a letter from a professional to get you additional supports for your child in the classroom such as an aid.

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Anxiety Treatments for Children

Posted by anxietyandschool on April 29, 2011

As a child I tried a hypnosis cd and had a lot of success with it. I learned to control nausea and later as a teenager migraine headaches. I have found a link to a large selection of cds at

Lynda Hudson has a cd for anxiety called Let go of Anxiety at <a href=””>

A therapist counts down from 10 to 1 and asks you to fill up with a colorful liquid and talks you through letting go of your anxieties and gives positive affirmations. This is a great way to develop abstract thinking skills and use visualizations as a way to relax.

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The Anxious Child Digital Magazine

Posted by anxietyandschool on April 27, 2011

Welcome to The Anxious Child. This digital magazine gives parenting tips for parenting the anxious child. The first three publications discuss the three techniques used to help reduce anxiety. This magazine is for all ages and is written by professionals in the field. As well the author of the Magazine George-Ann Bains is a mom of a child with anxiety and is also a survivor of anxiety herself. George-Ann gives tips that have worked for her child and come from first hand experience of dealing with a child with anxiety. Purchase The Anxious Child and learn to understand anxiety and parent with empathy and knowledge.

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Social Anxiety

Posted by anxietyandschool on February 2, 2011

Dealing with social anxiety can sometimes seem confusing, difficult and hard to get the whole story from your child. You may find that your child has no friends and waits for lunch and recess to end everyday by themselves. You maybe wondering why it is that your child is hanging around with a child or group of children that are bullying them or excluding them when it suits their fancy. With anxiety some children feel it is better to have a friend that bullies them than no friend at all. Say your child is afraid to go outside due to social anxiety and uses that child as a means to survive on the playground? Discussed below are strategies that you and the school can implement to help your child to change their view point of life. Discuss with your child that they should not stay with a mean person but to tell the child that is doing the bulling that they cannot play with them at this time and leave to find an adult on the playground that can help. Most schools have playground monitors in orange vests so they can be seen easily by the children. Meet with the playground monitor and explain what is happening to your child so that the monitor can keep an eye out for inappropriate behavior. Let the monitor know that your child may approach them for help and may need assistance to find a new friend. Let your child know that there are other children to play with at lunch. An excellent book about friendship is How to be a Friend by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown. Help your child to identify who is a good friend or who is approachable on the playground. For example, does that person have a smile on their face and do they look approachable for you to ask if you can play with them? Your child may be very scared to be alone on the playground because it is not always socially accepted to be by yourself . Other children may ask your child, “Why are you by yourself”.
Taking a survival kit to school filled with chalk, a skipping rope, cars, tennis balls, a book to read are concrete ways to help your child attract other children on the playground and create structure at lunch. If your child is older, some schools have clubs at lunch to join and meet new people. Discuss with the school teacher about pairing your child with a new child in class so that your child can get to know new friends. Some schools can arrange a time in class for your child and one to two others to play a board game together. Having lunch time friends arranged in advance can reduce the stress for your child before lunch and recess.

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