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Psychosomatic Trouble

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My daughter's fears and worries are affecting her health. She began complaining several months back about her stomach hurting her. Her pediatrician scheduled several tests and everything came back normal. I got to the root of the problem several days later -- it seems she and her friends were having trouble getting along. But she became upset again when I was signing her up for swimming lessons. She fears going under the water because she think she'll die. This time she became ill in the middle of the night and began throwing up. What do I do? I don't want her to continue this path with upsetting herself to the point of becoming physically sick.

A: You don't indicate how old your daughter is, but it sounds like you need to get help for her with her fears very soon. You were wise to rule out physical causes first; now you can focus on the emotional.

This is an issue for which you will want to get help from professionals. Start with the school counselor. He may be able to give your daughter some individual time or include her in a small group. You'll probably want to get additional help for your daughter outside the school, and the school counselor or your pediatrician can refer you to a therapist in your community.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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