Dealing with Separation Anxiety and Other Emotional Struggles in Children

separation anxietyI recently discussed with my sister some ways to handle her six year old who struggles with separation anxiety. After talking for a while these are some ideas we came up with. I think they could be useful or other emotional issues as well.

1. Validate the child’s feelings while also reassuring him that, in his case, Daddy will be home later.

2. After he has calmed down, transition to a positive coping strategy such as reading a book or playing a game.

3. Model appropriate emotional expression and using positive coping techniques. “I really wish Daddy didn’t have to go away for so long. I’m really sad. I feel so much better after I go running.”

4. Because kids have a hard time understanding the passage of time, use the clock during the day or a countdown calendar for long-term absences. “It’s 3:00. Daddy gets home at 6:00. That means he’ll be home in 3 hours.”

5. She also bought a toy that records voices so that he could hear Daddy’s voice whenever he wants.

The Power of No!!!




Since I was a young girl; perhaps it has to do with being a middle child- as long as I can remember I have been a “yes girl.”  If my older are younger sister would not do something, I would take up the slack as a way to keep the peace.  Being a “yes girl” has carried over into my adulthood. Although, I can honestly say that I am getting better at saying “no”, something still feels wrong about it. I have been enrolled in my own personal “just say no course, 101.”  I have seen gradual progression with occasional relapse, especially when it comes to my family. Here is a list regarding the Power of NO by Judith Sills Ph.D.

As a general guideline, five situations benefit from increasing strength to say No.

When it keeps you true to your principles and values.

It’s a beautiful thing—emotionally, spiritually, and even professionally—to be generous, to be supportive.  If a family and/or friend is doing something such as adultery and they confide in you. You should give them the opportunity to come clean on their own and if not you should explain how you will not be keeping their secret.

When it protects you from cheerful exploitation by others.

It’s remarkable how much some people will ask of you, even demand from you, things for which you yourself wouldn’t dream of asking. Protect yourself best from the many who feel entitled to ask by being strong enough to say a firm, clear, calm No.  This is the one I have the most trouble with.

Take a classic school and office scenario: A happy, popular, slacker colleague asks again to borrow his worker bee teammate’s careful notes. Mr. Worker Bee resents being used, but can’t think of a good reason to refuse. So he acquiesces. Gets asked again. Resents more. Can’t think of a good reason to say No, so he gives in. And so the cycle goes.

Finally, paying attention to his own feeling of being taken advantage of—instead of focusing on finding a reason acceptable to the cheerful exploiter—Worker Bee turns Mr. Popular down. Scraping up his backbone, Mr. Worker Bee simply says, “No, I’m not comfortable with that.”

His No earns him a chilly reception in the company cafeteria for a week or two. It isn’t a pleasant time, but it passes. In its wake, Mr. Worker Bee will find a new safety. No is a necessary life shield against the charming users who sniff out softies. It turns out nice guys can say No.

When it keeps you focused on your own goals.

When her boss criticized her for the second time as a “Chatty Cathy” whose work was late because she wasted too much time talking, Amy felt hurt and unfairly evaluated. Was it her fault that people loved to stop by her cubicle? How was she supposed to turn away Marsha, whose aging mother presented so many problems, or Jim, who wanted her thoughts on the best way to proceed with their clients? Her colleagues needed her support; cutting them short would hurt their feelings and her relationships.

Amy clearly needs the power of No. Why? Because, loving and being interested in them as she is, Amy is losing sight of her own responsibilities, her own agenda. No is a necessary tool to keep your goals in mind. Frankly, meeting your own goals is what you are being paid for and what will pay off. We all need No to do our job instead of someone else’s.

When it protects you from abuse by others.

Sadly, our most important relationships often invite our ugliest communications. In part that’s because the people closest to us arouse our strongest emotions, and in part it’s because they are the people we fear losing the most. Fear can sap the strength we need to say No, just when we need that power most.

A mean adult daughter is a case in point. Isabelle would insist that she loves her mother, but she also finds her irritating, offering the grandchildren too many snacks, giving Isabelle useless, anxiety-driven advice about health, bad weather, or spending. When Isabelle gets irritated, she snaps. She’s rude (“Shut up!”), insulting (“Trying to make my kids fat like you, Mom?”), or just downright mean (derisive and contemptuous dismissal). Her frequent assaults hurt Mom deeply, and Mom complains bitterly and often to other family members about Isabelle’s treatment.

Despite the support of her family, Mom never draws a line with Isabelle herself. She has yet to pull herself up and say, “Do not speak to me like that.” She feels unable to because, quite simply, “This is my daughter. If I tell her she’s not allowed to speak a certain way, she is quite capable of not speaking to me at all. I just can’t risk it.” Stripped of the power of No, we leave ourselves vulnerable to verbal assault.

When you need the strength to change course.

The invitations are in the mail, but the impending marriage is a mistake. The job looks good to the rest of the world, but it’s making you sick in the morning. Your family has sacrificed to pay the tuition, but law school feels like a poor fit. When you find yourself going down the wrong road, No is the power necessary to turn yourself around.

The obstacles to this potent No are twofold: First, of course, you have to be able to tolerate acknowledging, if only to yourself, that you made a mistake. So many of us would rather be right than happy. We will continue blindly down the wrong path because we simply can’t bring ourselves to read the road signs. Most of the time, though, we know when we need to draw the line.

The problem is getting ourselves to do it. Accessing your own power requires overcoming one huge obstacle: the cost of dishing out No.

So what do you think about the POWER of NO?

When is it a Good Time to get Married?

When is it a Good Time to get Married?

Marriage is an undertaking that is supposed to be binding, lasting and forever. It should not be taken frivolously. This involves the union of two separate individuals, two families and two worlds. It is not like a morsel of food that one can just spit out when it happens to be so hot. Hence, you are one of a kind to be thinking of it and to even just consider its propriety and timing.

When do you think it is the right time to get married….Some feel like the time to get married is when you find yourself in a relationship where compromise is king. You respect each other, pamper each other, and you don’t feel the need to be with anyone else, ever, for the rest of your life. You disagree sometimes, but you do not scream and call each other names. You discuss things calmly and find reasonable solutions, and then you move on. You are able to be honest with each other and forgive each other, no matter how bad the situation. Neither one of you is more important than the other in the decision-making process. You work as a team to support each other through life.

Knowing what you want out of life for yourself can take time, age and experience to discover. Knowing what you want out of someone else, should you decide that is what you wish for your life plans throws something completely different into the ring. Marriage is a serious step; it should never be something you jump into on a whim. However, the timeline is very different for each person and each couple. Know what is important before deciding when it’s time to get married.


Be Kind to Yourself in Your Self-talk

self talk What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? What do you say to yourself when you succeed? The words you tell yourself are powerful. When you give yourself unrealistic goals (such as perfectionism), you set yourself up for failure. When you talk to yourself with kindness, you give yourself the same kind of love you would want from others. When all of your self talk is filled with “musts” and “shoulds”: I have to get strait As or I am a failure…I should have a beautiful Pinterest-worthy meal on the table for my family every night…I am too selfish…. You are setting yourself up for depression and anxiety. A better way to talk to yourself is with patience and kindness: I would like to get strait As, but the occasional B won’t ruin my future…I would like to be a great cook, but the family will survive on ordinary food…I am only human and sometimes I have to look out for my own needs….Talking to yourself this way leads to self-acceptance. Do unto yourself as you would do unto others! You most likely wouldn’t be so critical of your kids…or a friend…or a stranger. Don’t be so critical of yourself! Loving yourself brings peace and less stress.

Children and Test Anxiety!!!

This year will be the first year that my daughter will be taking the STAAR test. The STAAR is a state standardized test that public school students start taking their third grade year. My son has taken the test for years and never really exhibited any symptoms of anxiety; my daughter on the other hand is in severe anxiety mode. She states that the teachers are telling them that if they do not pass they will not be promoted to the next grade (so much for No Child Left Behind). My daughter is an “A” student and I  personally feel that she will do fine on the tests but this is an extreme amount of pressure to put on anyone especially eight and nine-year olds.  More importantly, the stress she is feeling is unhealthy for her. Scrolling the web I came across this article that may help! The NYU Child Study Center released the following in regards to children and TEST ANXIETY:


What is test anxiety?

Test anxiety is the uneasiness or apprehension that a student feels before, during or after a test because of worry or fear of failure. Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time; in fact, low levels of anxiety can motivate students to study and perform well. However, when anxiety interferes with test-taking and learning it can cause students to .blank out. or have trouble paying attention, limiting their ability to think clearly and do their best work. The good news is that parents can help their children manage test anxiety.

What does it feel like?

Some students report physical symptoms including butterflies, cold or clammy hands, headaches, nausea, being hot or cold, or feeling faint. Others report feeling like they want to cry or even leave the room and not take the test. Still others feel angry or helpless.

What Can I Do As A Parent?

First Pratical Steps

Make sure your child has enough sleep, eats a healthy breakfast and gets to school on time.

Make sure your child has the needed school supplies (notebooks, pencils, etc.).

Doing well on a test is easier if a student has been consistently completing school assignments, including studying or reading. Encouraging your child to complete homework each day is important and helpful.

Specific Suggestions

Motivate your child to want to take a test. You can do this by reinforcing their efforts, including the studying and homework tasks, rather than focusing on having to make a certain grade.

Help you child reduce fear and anxiety. This can be accomplished with enthusiasm, praise and, at times, small rewards for giving their best effort in spite of feeling worried.

Anxious children tend to have many negative thoughts (I’m going to fail this test. or I do badly on every test.). You can teach your child to challenge these ideas by looking at the evidence against each negative thought (.Do you really fail every test? What is likely to happen if you study?). Finally, help your child to find a more optimistic thought to use whenever the negative ones arise (When I study I do pass tests.).

Teach your child ways to relax through simple techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.

Relaxation is a skill that requires learning and practice, so keep the relaxation practices short and simple. Make it a family activity, where everyone takes the time to breathe deeply: you can teach by example. Use the techniques yourself, for example, when you become frustrated while driving.

Encourage your child to practice in real life situations (e.g., before going to a stressful family event).

What Should I Avoid Doing?

Avoid giving excessive reassurance, such as repeatedly saying, You‘ll do great!. Too much reassurance causes anxious children to seek to discredit the parent’s opinion.

Avoid telling your child exactly what to do. It is more useful to ask your child to come up with a realistic plan for studying and taking the test. Successful completion of the plan enhances the child’s feeling of control and accomplishment, and this will decrease anxiety. Build in some relaxation time to your child’s plan.

Don’t ignore the problem by hoping it will go away by itself.

Don’t be impatient (Just take the test and get over it!).

Don’t allow the child to avoid the situation (You can stay home today.).

When should I seek professional help?

Students with severe test anxiety may decline in their academic performance, and are more likely to repeat a grade and perform worse on other activities that require new learning (Campbell, 1986). Test anxiety has also been related to poor self-esteem and school refusal (Ollendick & Meyer, 1984). Although it is normal to have some degree of test anxiety, if the problem persists or the symptoms are interfering with school performance, help is available. Reducing test anxiety alone will not be effective unless children know how to study and take tests. Teaching study skills and test-taking strategies are effective in helping students perform better in school (Beidel &Taylor-Ferrerira, 1995).

Written and Developed by Lori Evans, Ph.D. and the staff of the NYU Child Study Center


Wishing your children much success on their test!!!





In this Situation… Self Control is Necessary!!!!!

FFC Self Control Image

One afternoon  as I was going through a fast food drive thru, I had a run in with “the devil” himself!  After I placed my order, I proceeded to pull my vehicle up.  Because there were several cars in front of me, I could only pull up but so far.  As I was sitting in the line, I heard a loud screaming like noise.  So I turned down the radio and lowered my window to see where this noise was coming from.  I was in total disbelief!  The young girl in the car behind me was shouting with profanity at me to pull my car up.  She was using some extreme choice words.  I tried to remain calm and tell her that I could not go any further until the line moves.  She persisted to scream with profanity to tell me to move.  By this time I had got heated up!  I was no longer going to let this young girl call me out of my name and scream profanity at me.  I proceeded to get out of my car, however; I stopped.  It took me a few seconds to realize that getting out of my car would not be the best thing to do in this situation.  By this time the young girl backed up and stormed out of the parking lot continuously screaming and yelling.

How many times have we been in  these type situations?  I have learned in life that there will be moments like this.  It is in these moments that we have to employ our God-given fruit of the spirit called “self-control.”  I could have very easily got out of my car and got into a physical confrontation.  However, I realize that would not have been the best thing to do.  We really have to learn to think before we act.  My quick thinking to not get out of the car very well saved me some unnecessary consequences.

Try not to let life’s situations take control of you.  Refuse to act off of impulse.  Remember you always have a choice.  Choose self-control!  For in the end, YOU WIN!