Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Got Worries?

When we worry about everything, it can take over our lives.  There are some kids that I see, that worry about everything.  Worry can lead to panic.  Panic attacks are real and scary.  Even when kids know strategies to get through a panic attack, worry can still be there.  The most common worries reported by my students are: 
  •   What if someone notices?
  •   What if everyone stares at me?
  •   What if I forget something?
  •   What if my teachers get mad at me?
  •   What if I disappoint my parents?
  •   What if I fail my test?
  •   What if I don’t do my homework?
  •   What if everyone thinks I’m stupid?
  •   What if everyone makes fun of me?
In most of these worries, there is some type of self-doubt.  Confidence is missing.  How do we help students find confidence?  By continually reinforcing the concept that they can get through it, and when they did things were actually OK. 
Lately, I have had students keep track of their worries for a specific period of time. 
We use this sheet, which I print out as business card size—with 10 to a page, cut to size and hand a small stack to the student.  You can keep track for a day or two for a younger student, to a week or two for an older student.  Envelopes or small decorated Altoid mint containers make excellent collection bins for the filled out sheets.  Students are given the directions of filling out a sheet for each worry they have during the day.  When the specified amount of time is over, we regroup and look at all their worries and evaluate how bad they actually were.  It’s amazing when a stack of worries, becomes a very minuscule pile of papers, or many times, no pile at all.  The discarded pile can then be destroyed.  I find that kids love it when I put a garbage can on the table, for them to crumple and throw their unnecessary worries into.
As students begin to realize that there are some things that are genuine concerns, there are many things that are pointless to spend time worrying about.  Evaluating one’s worries can help to increase levels of confidence because they know they were insignificant in the past and they can get through a situation or thought.  
What are some ways you have helped students examine worries and anxiety?  Leave a comment below and share your ideas.

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