Sexton Mountain Elementary
This month I want to share an article with you from the Child Mind Institute by Dr. Goldstein. This article talks about helping your child with anxiety. During CDL and the COVID pandemic we are seeing an increase in students experiencing anxiety. If your child is struggling with anxiety and you need more support please email our counselors, Jennifer_Yoshida or Sarah_Nelson. They are happy to provide support and more resources.
What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are AnxiousEN ESPAÑOL
How to respect feelings without empowering fears
Clark Goldstein, PhD
When children are chronically anxious, even the most well-meaning parents can fall into a negative cycle and, not wanting a child to suffer, actually exacerbate the youngster’s anxiety. It happens when parents, anticipating a child’s fears, try to protect her from them. Here are pointers for helping children escape the cycle of anxiety.
1. The goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety, but to help a child manage it.
None of us wants to see a child unhappy, but the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isn’t to try to remove stressors that trigger it. It’s to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function as well as they can, even when they’re anxious. And as a byproduct of that, the anxiety will decrease or fall away over time.
2. Don’t avoid things just because they make a child anxious.
Helping children avoid the things they are afraid of will make them feel better in the short term, but it reinforces the anxiety over the long run. If a child in an uncomfortable situation gets upset, starts to cry—not to be manipulative, but just because that’s how she feels—and her parents whisk her out of there, or remove the thing she’s afraid of, she’s learned that coping mechanism, and that cycle has the potential to repeat itself.
3. Express positive—but realistic—expectations.
You can’t promise a child that his fears are unrealistic—that he won’t fail a test, that he’ll have fun ice skating, or that another child won’t laugh at him during show & tell. But you can express confidence that he’s going to be okay, he will be able to manage it, and that, as he faces his fears, the anxiety level will drop over time. This gives him confidence that your expectations are realistic, and that you’re not going to ask him to do something he can’t handle.
4. Respect her feelings, but don’t empower them.
It’s important to understand that validation doesn’t always mean agreement. So if a child is terrified about going to the doctor because she’s due for a shot, you don’t want to belittle her fears, but you also don’t want to amplify them.You want to listen and be empathetic, help her understand what she’s anxious about, and encourage her to feel that she can face her fears. The message you want to send is, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay, and I’m here, and I’m going to help you get through this.”
5. Don’t ask leading questions.
Encourage your child to talk about his feelings, but try not to ask leading questions— “Are you anxious about the big test? Are you worried about the science fair?” To avoid feeding the cycle of anxiety, just ask open-ended questions: “How are you feeling about the science fair?”
6. Don’t reinforce the child’s fears.
What you don’t want to do is be saying, with your tone of voice or body language: “Maybe this is something that you should be afraid of.” Let’s say a child has had a negative experience with a dog. Next time she’s around a dog, you might be anxious about how she will respond, and you might unintentionally send a message that she should, indeed, be worried.
7. Encourage the child to tolerate her anxiety.
Let your child know that you appreciate the work it takes to tolerate anxiety in order to do what he wants or needs to do. It’s really encouraging him to engage in life and to let the anxiety take its natural curve. We call it the “habituation curve”—it will drop over time as he continues to have contact with the stressor. It might not drop to zero, it might not drop as quickly as you would like, but that’s how we get over our fears.
8. Try to keep the anticipatory period short.
When we’re afraid of something, the hardest time is really before we do it. So another rule of thumb for parents is to really try to eliminate or reduce the anticipatory period. If a child is nervous about going to a doctor’s appointment, you don’t want to launch into a discussion about it two hours before you go; that’s likely to get your child more keyed up. So just try to shorten that period to a minimum.
9. Think things through with the child.
Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if a child’s fear came true—how would she handle it? A child who’s anxious about separating from her parents might worry about what would happen if they didn’t come to pick her up. So we talk about that. If your mom doesn’t come at the end of soccer practice, what would you do? “Well I would tell the coach my mom’s not here.” And what do you think the coach would do? “Well he would call my mom. Or he would wait with me.” A child who’s afraid that a stranger might be sent to pick her up can have a code word from her parents that anyone they sent would know. For some kids, having a plan can reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.
10. Try to model healthy ways of handling anxiety.
There are multiple ways you can help kids handle anxiety by letting them see how you cope with anxiety yourself. Kids are perceptive, and they’re going to take it in if you keep complaining on the phone to a friend that you can’t handle the stress or the anxiety. I’m not saying to pretend that you don’t have stress and anxiety, but let kids hear or see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, feeling good about getting through it.
News from the Library
There are a couple changes in our schedule and how students can pick up book bundles from the Sexton Mountain Library:
- Mondays -- Curbside distribution will be consolidated in one afternoon. Drop by Sexton Mountain on Mondays between 2:30 and 4:00 pm to pick up bundles of books or to grab your holds.
- Wednesdays -- Our Book Bus will be moving to Wednesdays so students can visit during asynchronous learning days. The route and times will be the same. Check the Smore for details about when and where we’ll be.
If you're picking up a hold for a student, you can drop by during any school day between 9 and 4. You'll receive a confirmation email when the book is ready.
If these times and days don't work for your schedule, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll find a way to get books to your readers!
Click below to get step by step directions on placing a hold on library books.
Battle of the books Bitmoji Library!
The Learning Options application is live! The deadline is December 11, 2020 at 4:00 PM.
- Learning Options online application (English and Spanish)
- Learning Options English paper application
- Learning Options Online Spanish version
- Learning Options main page - Full Day program and FAQ information can be found here
- Any information regarding LO Open Houses will be posted on the Full Day Option Programs page - Important Dates calendar.
Safe Routes to School
Cold Weather Doesn’t Mean You Need to Stay Inside!
With the change in weather it can be tempting to stay indoors. We know that our kids need to move every day and the extensive associated benefits of physical exercise. Here are some tips to help you build healthy (and fun!) habits into the remote school day:
- Start your day by taking a walk or a bike ride. Do you still travel to a different location for school? Then make that trip an active one! Too far to walk? Try parking halfway and walking the rest. Commit to walking or biking 2 days a week and start building those healthy habits.
- Take movement breaks in between classes or at lunch time. A brisk walk around the block will get your heart pumping and re-energize you for the rest of your day.
- Need to pick up your library holds or free lunch? Bike over to your pickup location and reap the benefits of an active trip while checking off your to-do list.
January 4- First day of school in 2021- Grading day
January 18- Martin Luther King Holiday-No school
January 20- Regular day of school