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Helping an Anxious Child

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: For the past week, my first-grader has been throwing up before school - he's obviously very anxious. He says he's nervous about the end of school and second grade. What can I do to stop his anxiety?

A: Arrange with the second-grade teachers for your son to visit their classes. Many schools set this up for their students during the school day so that all of the children can visit at the same time. If your school doesn't do that, set up a time when you can go with him to the second-grade rooms after school.

With you there, let your son meet the teachers, look around the rooms, and try out one of the desks. With your son listening, ask the teachers questions about the work in second grade, what the daily schedule is like, and what the rules are. Your son will see that second grade is not very different from first. Make sure that he hears that the teachers still take good care of second-graders and that he will be ready to do the work that he is given.

You can also ask your son's first-grade teacher to talk with you and your son about second grade. She will most likely reassure him that he is ready and the work will not be too hard, and that he will still be able to see her around the school.

Make sure you talk about the second grade with your son this summer. Also, alert the school counselor to the problem so that she will be ready to assist him in the fall if necessary.

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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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