Monday, December 22, 2014

First grader's tips for calming your fears

I discovered at the start of this school year that my six-year-old daughter has an actual phobia. Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. When she has nightmares, they do not often feature monsters or bad guys. Her nightmares are often about someone throwing up at school. This happened once last year and twice so far this year. Not exactly a frequent occurrence, but she is afraid nonetheless.

She and I discuss this fear frequently, and especially last week after several very difficult mornings.  She understands that her reaction to vomit is physical and involuntary. She likes the big word, Emetophobia. We are working together so she may learn simple ways to cope and calm the physical reaction.

The other day? A child vomited in her class. She said her body became jittery and her teacher said she was pale. But this time, she did not end up in the school clinic. She actually made it through the day. The following morning however, she was inconsolable and quite afraid to attend class. But she was brave, and she got herself out of the car and ventured into the school building, wiping the tears from her eyes.

Needless to say, I thought of her all day long.

She greeted me with a smile as she clambered back into the car after the final school bell had rung. She immediately presented me with a journal entry she wrote at school. She tore it from the journal, because it was a note especially for me:

"Dear Mommy,

I was fine today at school but in the morning I was a little sad. In the end it got better.

I talked to my teachers.
I talked to my friends.
I thought happy thoughts.
And it all got much better.

So I want you to know that I love you. You're the best mom ever." 

I think these coping skills are phenomenal for a first grader and applicable to anyone. When we have worries or anxiety, it helps to talk to supportive people. It helps to focus on the positive.

I could not be more proud of her accomplishment that day at school. She tackled a frightening situation in a very grown-up way and gave us some pretty smart advice.

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