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Back to School Time Can Be Overwhelming for Children Suffering with Anxiety


Summer is coming to an end, and children across America are once again strapping on their backpacks and heading off to school for the year. For most children, the beginning of school is met with the anticipation of seeing friends and having fun, but for children struggling with anxiety, it can be a difficult time for both the children as well as their parents.

Children with excessive fear or anxiety disorders may all battle unique feelings, but one emotion is shared between them all, the coming of a new school year and the uncertainty it brings with it creates feeling of fear, nervousness, dread, and even panic. One of the leading resources developed for treating child anxiety at cites research that indicates that as many as one in ten children may battle an anxiety disorder, which begs the question, “What can parents do to help their children with anxiety adjust during this critical time”?

Rich Presta, the author of the Anxiety-Free Child Program states, “It’s certainly understandable that parents and loved ones, especially those that haven’t suffered with anxiety in their own lives, feel frustrated, hopeless, confused, and a even afraid themselves because of their child’s anxiety and their not knowing how to handle it appropriately. The single most important thing a parent can do if their child is having a challenge with their anxiety is to educate themselves and understand what their child is experiencing and what they can do about it. Unfortunately, what parents tend to gravitate toward as a solution, such as telling their children to suppress or ‘get over’ their feelings, or forcing them into situations their child may not be ready for, can actually make their child’s anxiety worse, more pervasive, and difficult to treat.”

One of the key tenets of Presta’s acclaimed program is the criticality of getting to the root of what the child is actually afraid of underneath the anxious feeling bubbling to the surface. He points out that although the fear may be manifesting as resistance to starting school or even outright school refusal, what the child may be actually afraid of may not be school itself, but an aspect of the school environment, such as socializing, being away from parents, failure, or feeling inadequate in comparison to peers. This knowledge will allow the parent, along with a therapist or self-help program like the one he provides, to counter the habitual, negative, and irrational thinking that goes along with problematic anxiety.

Presta not only developed the Anxiety-Free Child Program, but is a former anxiety disorder sufferer himself and states, “As someone who lived with anxiety both as a child and adult and overcame it, I can say that simply understanding what is happening to the body during an anxious episode, and that there is a reason for it and it’s not clouded in mystery, can be incredibly therapeutic for both child and parent"

Rich Presta’s program for treating child anxiety and other resources for parents of children with anxiety, including a free email seminar on the topic can found on the Anxiety-Free Child Program website at His work has been showcased in Psychology Today and Natural Health magazines, as well as on TV such as CNN, MSNBC, and the Discovery Health Channel. Program author Presta added, “It’s critical to me personally that parents with children that need help have the opportunity to access the information they need to feel more comfortable in their ability to help their children overcome their fear, so I work hard to make it easy for anyone to learn the facts about their children’s anxiety so they can get to work on assisting their children in putting their fears behind them and reclaiming the fun and happy childhood they deserve.”


 Child Anxiety
 Children with anxiety

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