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Help for Children with School Anxiety

Help for Children with School Anxiety

Having suffered from anxiety and depression myself (like about 40 million, or 18% of Americans), I can tell you it is real. Yes, some people still think it’s “all in your head.” I have heard many well-intentioned teachers and parents alike poo-poo the idea of school anxiety in particular. While some may use these feelings as a crutch or excuse to avoid schoolwork, they can be physically damaging and real to the person suffering from true anxiety or one of several other possible disorders. Before pushing it off as nothing, please determine whether or not your child has an anxiety issue that needs your attention.

Just nervous or an anxiety problem?

How can a parent tell the difference? It is, after all, normal for kids to be nervous about a new school year and teacher, making friends, academic success and more. I’m nervous for my kids, but when is it a real problem? When your child can be distracted or comforted out of his or her worry, it may not be a big problem. It may just take time for your child to adjust to so many changes at once. Anxiety that lasts several weeks into the school year may suggest more is going on with your kid.

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When your child worries about everything, refuses to attend school, can’t focus on activities he or she would normally enjoy, or when his or her fears and worries impact activities of daily life, it is time to call the pediatrician. Keep the teacher in the loop and ask for his or her observations. If you have anxiety yourself, you may notice similar signs in your child. Try not to let your child hear you talk about your worries. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings and identify steps to take if they get overly anxious. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has tips and suggestions for parents and caregivers to help kids with school-related anxiety.

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Here are some ways parents can help a child who may be struggling with school anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings as real by speaking calmly and honestly; remember that no feelings are wrong. We all experience life differently, and what upsets me likely doesn’t bother you. Try not to add to your child’s fears with negative comments. Instead, encourage them to see the positive aspects of school (field trips, sports,  clubs, etc.).
  2. Try to include your child in school planning and scheduling; give choices or options when possible. Kids want some power over their life, and many options are available today.
  3. Prepare him or her for upcoming situations by knowing what may upset or exacerbate your child’s anxiety and teach him or her strategies to deal and avoid anxiety-inducing situations when possible. Deep breathing and visualization are two simple techniques even the youngest kids can master.
  4. Look forward to new opportunities rather than back at past failures. Always have high expectations for your child, academically and personally, but be flexible and non-critical when success is not reached.
  5. Encourage your child to develop his or her strength areas and independence by pointing out areas of success and providing opportunities to work on or display those skills.

Everyone gets nervous sometimes, but when nervousness turns to crippling anxiety, get help. Be patient with kids as they traverse a new school year with a new teacher, but be aware when your child seems overly clingy or the stomachache returns each morning before school. Avoid letting your child stay home, as this can give the wrong message. Instead, be supportive without giving in or giving up. Finally, keep teachers and school professionals involved in the conversation; they may have experience and techniques to help support your child’s continued success in school and life.

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Joan Lowell

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Last Updated on November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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