Monday, April 30, 2012

Worried Students

It is Monday morning and I have already used the "Worry Step Ladder" with two individuals who were experiencing anxiety about separating and coming to school.  These two happen to be in grades 4 and 5.  I often use a ladder to get them to tell me 3 fears and the intensity of each.  I always learn something useful.  Today I learned one student is worried that her mom will forget to pick her up. This allowed me to check in, "Has that ever happened?"  that led to a useful interchange about how this irrational thought was contributing to the worry and stomach pain. This is an adaption from a suggestion in "Helping Your Anxious Child" by Rapee, et. al (2008).  I recommend and loan the book to at least one parent a week.  We then talk about a plan to minimize the "Make me a little worried," then "Hard to do," and finally "Really hard to do."  I use the analogy from the book that learning to manage anxiety is like learning to swim.  We need to start at the shallow end of the pool.  The one student's goal is "To be able to come to school relaxed without worrying about mom and wanting to go home."  Sometimes students need to relearn coming to school.  Her plan includes: Get out of bed when awake and not lay there worrying, Eat a light breakfast, Breathe in the car, Say goodbye using a quick routine, Come into building, (check in with counselor if needed), Think about something positive, Find a friend in line, Eat a snack in morning, Congratulate self for doing it!


  1. Great Idea!

  2. Mary Beth, As a School Nurse with a psychiatric nursing background, I deal with many students who have anxiety about things that they have not shared with anyone, many of which are irrational fears. Once we talk about them they seem to feel better and their stomach aches and headaches will disappear. Wish others would take time to talk with students to see what's behind some of their issues. I like the worry ladder idea and will make use of it. I take care of students PK-5 in 2 elementary school (~1600 students) and see roughly 60-75 students every day. I'll have to check out the book you recommended. It sounds like a good resource. I really want to work with students on test anxiety. I think this is crippling to many students.