Does your school age child suffer from anxiety, school phobia or panic attacks? Here are some helpful suggestions for caregivers and parents.
Get medical advice. When a young child is experiencing severe fright or anxiety symptoms, an appointment with the pediatrician is in order right away. The physician can decide whether there is an actual cause for the child's feelings and work to treat it. Also, he or she may be able to provide you with a referral to a child anxiety specialist.
Talk to the school. A confidential meeting with your child's primary teacher, the school nurse, and even the school principal can be very helpful. The majority of primary schools today have encountered children with a variety of emotional struggles and childhood anxiety is one of them. Together you can come up with a plan of action to ensure that your child feels relaxed while at school.
Find a helpful book as a resource. There are wonderful books written on the subject of childhood anxiety. You can search for books on Amazon.com and go over reviews of what other parents have written to help determine if a particular book is right for your child's specific situation. You may even find useful books right at the local library.
Connect with other caregivers and parents. It can be helpful to be able to share experiences and tips with other families who are going through the same thing. Connecting with other parents is also a wonderful way to help you see you're not alone in your struggle. You may find other parents of young children with anxiety at online forums.
Work with your child but do not condone the anxious feelings. For instance, if your child has anxiety about going to school in the morning, it can be tempting to give in to his or her fears. After all she may cling to you, cry, throw a temper tantrum or complain of a stomach ache. Make getting on the bus the number one priority, and work with the school to make it as uneventful and smooth a transition as possible.
You can ask for the help of the bus driver in the morning to help get your child onto the bus without incident. If you need to, you can have someone from the school help get your child to class. As well, make sure your child knows her teacher is a "safe person," one who she can go to immediately if she starts to feel anxious or frightened.
Should you cave in to your child's fears and let her miss school when frightened or anxious, you reinforce her anxiety that school is indeed frightening and something to be avoided. So while addressing the anxiety and working with your child is challenging and takes a lot of effort on your part, by maintaining a regular schedule where going to school is the priority, in time, it will get much better.
Panic attacks in children usually do not just go away on their own. Left untreated, they can lead to ongoing problems with school, making friends, and self esteem. The good news is that early intervention and doing anxiety self help techniques at home has extremely good results. Although it can be frustrating and difficult to deal with a child's anxiety issues, please realize that your determination and effort will have your son or daughter quickly on the road to recovery.