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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

What Every Parent Should Know About School Anxiety

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 11th 2009

It's that time again, school is back and so is the anxiety that usually comes with it. Schools seem to be more competitive these days than ever before so it's not a complete shock that I see more kids and teens suffering with school-related anxiety nowadays. How can you help?

In her new book Overcoming School Anxiety, Diane Peters Mayer lays out why kids feel anxiety related to school and what you can do to help.

One of the suggestions she mentions seems fundamental to me. That is, taking care of your own anxiety. Kids are bright, intuitive and looking to the adult to see if the world is safe or not. If you're anxious, that's a sign to them that there may be something to worry about. As she says, "If you're freaking out about her ‘illness', then she will too."

 Here's one tip to practice today:

Ask yourself, "What is one thing I am doing to take care of myself today?" That may be taking a walk during the lunch break, treating yourself to a manicure, exercising, spending time with a friend, yoga, meditation, the list can go on and on.

Ok, so you're taking care of yourself. What are some things you can do to help your child relax?

I'll be interviewing Diane soon to bring her directly to you to suggest ways to help children relax.

In an earlier blog I explored the idea of practicing Charlotte Reznick's idea of practicing the balloon breath. In that same blog, a reader wrote another wonderful suggestion to incorporate more play and fun.

She said:

"In addition to the deep abdominal breathing described here, I use bubbles for adults and children to practice this technique.  While breathing in through their nose to a count of 3-4 and out through pursed lips to a count of 3-4, I ask them to blow as large of bubbles as they can using kid bubbles.  If they have slow, abdominal breathing, they will blow big bubbles and if thoracic shallow fast breathing, the bubbles will be small and pop fast.  This is an immediate reinforcer for correct breathing and fun too."

At the end of the day, some anxiety is very healthy to get the wheels of motivation moving. But when your child is suffering with overwhelming anxiety, it's often good to get support of a healthcare professional.

As always, please share your thoughts, questions, and stories. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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