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Overcoming School Anxiety: How to Help Your Child Deal With Separation, Tests, Homework, Bullies, Math Phobia, and Other Worries Paperback – July 2, 2008
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"Its [Overcoming School Anxiety] sensible deconstruction of anxiety's causes will help many parents who find t at their child's stress levels impede optimal school performance." ForeWord magazine
"Remarkably well written, and with the average parent in mind comprising her primary readership, Diane Peters Mayer presents a superb 'primer' concerning an oft described (but usually poorly interpreted) familiar topic of general interest to many (if not all ?) parents." --Metapsychology Online Reviews
Every year, more than 68 million students of every age find themselves worrying excessively about their first day of school, even before it begins. Their hearts race, their stomachs turn, and their palms sweat just thinking about getting on the school bus for the first time, that first pop quiz, or that notoriously strict teacher. For parents of these children, nothing can be more upsetting than dropping their kids off on the first day of school, wondering how they will cope. Now, they can stop worrying and start helping. As a seasoned psychotherapist, Diane Peters Mayer has successfully treated hundreds of elementary school students suffering from this common disorder. In Overcoming School Anxiety, she shows parents how to deal with a wide variety of problems, from test and homework anxiety, to bullying, and fear of speaking up in class. Mayer also offers easy-to-learn techniques for children including breathing and relaxation exercises, focusing techniques, and tips on proper diet and exercise that help relieve stress.
Filled with real-life examples as well as proven advice for working with teachers, principals, and counselors, this is the only comprehensive guide that will enable every parent to help a child cope, build confidence, and succeed in school.
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I have a bookshelf heavy with books specifically on anxiety, bullying, panic attacks - but this book has somehow managed to pull wisdom on this wide spectrum together in an organized and accessible fashion. The exercises include controlled breathing and imagery in addition to ways to talk to your child about the problem. It's so important to recognize the mind body connection in anxiety issues and this is at the heart of the book.
It also recognizes the importance of nutrition in the equation. Who knew bananas may help reduce anxiety? I didn't!
Another gem - making a little album of successful people who overcame the same challenges your child is facing. My dyslexic daughter found doing this a real eye opener.
I rarely take the time to recommend books online - but this had to be an exception, as I have truly found it to be an absolute gem.
Take a look inside - but just briefly the book covers helping children cope with anxiety, separation, bullying, phobias, panic attacks, homework, tests, fitting in, perfectionism, building self-esteem, conflict at home, learning and physical challenges.
Following an initial introductory section concerned with definitions and characterizations of a wide range of anxiety-related symptoms and contexts (being careful to distinguish anxiety from fear or stress per se), the best possible start introduces the reader to `anxiety' as an experience not necessarily to be avoided (i.e., as `bad'), but as a phenomenon to be managed throughout the ontological development of every child's personal growth (from day 1 at kindergarten through high school). The following chapters 3-13 each deal with a different specific manifestation of anxiety-provoking experiences common to children of school ages, including separation anxiety, worry, novel situation avoidance, homework and examination anxieties, perfectionism, self-esteem management, bullying, and parent-intrafamily conflicts. We imagine that many parents will wish to focus upon only one or two of these chapters as may be most relevant to their own child(ren)'s anxiety symptoms once identified, but for professionals working with life-skill enhancement training programs and psychometric assessment caseloads, reading Peters Mayer cover-to-cover will (we believe), reveal much of significance for use in the parenting consultancy clinic also. Each of the 10 middle chapters first outlines the relevant target anxiety-related expression symptomologies (with variations and partial-differential diagnosis, DSM-IV refs, etc.), followed by aetiology cosiderations, occurrence frequency data, exercise and `treatment' recommendations, symptom management procedures and some excellent checklists. These are each presented as `stand-alone' readable chapters (we in particular enjoyed the chapters concerned with Bullying (Ch.12) and Parental and Family Conflict (Ch.13 ) and, with ready reference to the many `common' solutions to be found in the later chapters 14-19, which introduce and discuss the author's own preferred `ready for use' techniques for managing anxiety, with parent(s) and child working together to experience the benefits of belly-breathing, visualization, and a variety of other physical activity-based distractions.
Although not explicitly stated, one recurrent theme extractable throughout this book (at least from the view of the current reviewers), is the author's hinting that the key to anxiety reduction lays in its management, rather than its avoidance or annihilation. Indeed, as she does later state towards the conclusion of her book (correctly in our view): "If a deep belief exists that the symptoms of anxiety [and not simply their deliberate expression*] in all their disturbing manifestations are harmless [and not life-threatening*], then it does not matter where or when they strike, anxiety and panic will decline and lose their power" (p.170, *square bracket text indicates additional reviewer commentary). Initially reminiscent of the psychodynamics of the early 1970s and 1980s, this book offers much more than the usual fare of that nature, with extensive discussion of a range of different anxiety management strategy(ies) and practical advice for immediate home-based implementation(s), with appropriate cautions also being sounded with regards the use of either psychotropic medications, or other `alternative' forms of therapy which parents may be considering to expose their anxious child(ren) to. A final take-home (do-at-home ?) message recurrent in the text, is for parents to consider the possibility that their child(ren) might be `learning' at least some of their anxiety-related expressions/behaviours from their observations of other family members as they may have exhibited them in stressful situations (and especially those of their own parents). Peters Mayer repeatedly states that the exercises which she proposes be conducted by both parent and child together (and of this part the current reviewers are particularly supportive), with parents remaining willing to model the very behaviours they might wish to engender in their new, and increasingly less-anxious children, as they also grow toward a more mature, and relatively stress-free, adulthood experience.
Dr. Tony Dickinson & Lucillal Lau
Academic Research Laboratory, Worldwide Psychometric Solutions.