Saturday, October 29, 2005

Slaying the BOGEYMAN

Monsters under the bed.A thunderstorm.The dark.All young children worry about things,real or imagined.And as they grow,so do their anxieties.Will the kids on the soccer team like me?Will i pass tomorrow's test?Most parents manage to console their kids and lessen their fears.But for some children,anxiety crosses the line from normal to unhealthy.

One child can't eat for fear of choking.Another has a fear of animals.Or she dreads going to school because she hat to being away from Mum all day.Fortunately, here, too, parents can develop strategies to help anxious children cope.

Worries are a part of growing up and being grown-up.It's normal and even healthy for children to worry a little:It gives them the tools they need to withstand life's bumps and spills.The butterflies in the stomach before a school play or a big test motivate a child to work hard and do her best.

If a worry meter existed,healthy anxiety present challenges that children learn from, and it makes them resilient.A little higher on the meter, however, would be worries that distress children rather than challenge them.A child with such anxiety has fears she can't quite conquer; for example, the knots in her stomach prevent her from being able to get out of the car just before a big soccer game.Kids with this type of anxiety need more help-perhaps some professional intervention such as family therapy.at the top of the anxiety would be the extreme but relatively oncommon anxiety disorders that prevent childre from successful day-to-day living, such as the child who is so afraid of dirt that she washes her hands several times an hour.These kids require mpre intense professional therapy and quite often, medication.

Here are some approaches you can try at home:

· Face your own fears.By being overly worried yourself, you can inadvertently teach your kids to worry.If you avoid your fears, your children won't confront theirs either.
· Make sure your kids aren't feeling overwhelmed by too many activities.Build time to relax into their day.Institute routines for bedtime,homework and extracurricular activities.Anxious children like their world to be ordrely and controlled.
· Enforce proper sleep and dietary habits.Who doesn't feel better and more relax when these basics are in balance?And make sure your children get enough exercise.Anxious kids are often tired because they exhaust themselves with worry, but exercise will increase energy and reduce worry.