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Small Child, Big Fears (and more from childmind.org)

THIS WEEK ON CHILDMIND.ORG
September 4, 2012

If you’ve lived with, and loved, a very anxious child you’ll recognize the kind of moments Michaela Searfoorce writes about this week: Watching her son James stand, stranded, on the beach while all the other (younger) kids are splashing joyfully in the waves. Girding for a meltdown when a balloon man materializes at a favorite restaurant. Prepping the Oscar-caliber performance it takes to coax him into the pediatrician’s office. Michaela writes about living for 12 years with James’s severe phobias—in some ways more challenging, she notes, than a myriad of cognitive and physical deficits and medical issues.

For an otherwise adventurous family, it means a mental list of things you don’t do and places you don’t visit to avoid causing James misery. But it also means an evolving set of strategies to help him overcome his fears. Michaela shares her tactics (some she’s proud of, some she’s not) on childmind.org. And she shares the great pleasure she takes in each of the things James no longer fears, something all of us who’ve been there can enjoy too.

With most high schools opening their doors this week, learning specialist Ruth Lee, the Child Mind Institute’s Director of Clinical Outreach, offers a checklist for students to get organized and off to a good start in managing their homework and assignments. Not surprisingly, she advocates use of a planner. But what did surprise me is that she suggests that kids block out time in their planners for things they like to do, as well as things they have to do. The reason? Because kids who find homework arduous often feel that it will take forever, using up all the time they have for things that are fun. By marking out blocks next to each other, kids can remind themselves that working efficiently, rather than avoiding the work, will leave guilt-free time to do whatever they enjoy.

—Caroline Miller, Editorial Director

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