By: Dee Jones, President of Light 2 World, Inc.
Whether it’s a holiday, new teacher, or new vacuum cleaner, my 6 year old is anxious! School starts early this year, providing a recipe for tight tummies, tears, and tantrums on the first day of class. What can you do? There is help for calming little and big nerves. First, know the signs. Children display anxiety in various ways. I know something is brewing when I see the “nail-biting”. Tearing up more often, hair twisting, lip-picking, or tummy ache. Evengrown-ups display signs of anxiety that are oh too familiar.
The Centers for Disease and Control(CDC) term these emotional signs and symptoms as internalizing disorders. Other disorders in this category are depression, panic attacks, or separation anxiety. Second, treatment should be age appropriate. Toddlers are usually stressed when separated from their parents. I child-care is a must, start gradually with little visits away from your little one. Older children can express extreme fears in new situations and changes in your family. My little one was extremely close to my friend’s pet. A week after this loss, my colleague presented him with a memorial necklace with a picture of the dog. We talk about the good times, shed tears, and write stories about those fun times. With time and prayer, we cry less and laugh more.
Third, make plans and get help when needed. For example, new first graders can visit the new classroom and meet their new teacher before the year begins. If you are moving or a family member leaves, create new memories that are fun. Focus on the positive aspects of times together. Laughter and tears are ok. Whatever the reason for anxiety; seek professional help if your best efforts continue to fail. “Repeated and sudden fear of unknown origin, trouble breathing, insomnia, and persistent headaches and stomach aches are physical signs of anxiety. Get help. Lastly, teaching your little one to pray is one of the best tools you can teach. Prayer can be applied anywhere at any time. If this is new to you, there are numerous resources to get started. Set time in the morning and at night to begin this wonderful discipline. The book of Psalms is full of wonderful prayers. My mom taught me Psalm 23 and it consoles me to this day. Now I teach it to my little one. How comforting to know, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”
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