How to help a child with great Anxiety

Ninong asks: My daughter (7 years old) is a wonderful, intelligent and socially adept child. Lately, however, she cries and vomits every time we begin her to school. This happens every time she waits for the results of an exam/test or a quiz she has taken in class. I could observe that she literally would count the days when the exam results would be announced getting fidgety as the date draws near. She always (and this is not an exaggeration) would get excellent results and in fact is the top student of her school. She would immediately return to her usual happy and wonderful self as soon as the exam results are announced. Her home-room teacher has observed this behavior and even called my attention to it. We have ruled out bullying and other factors since they are visibly absent in her case. We have assured her that we would be as happy with any result she would get for as long as she tried her best. We have talked to her about this and have kept re-assuring her.

Hi Ninong –


I’m so glad you wrote me about your daughter.  This is a very tough problem, and she definitely needs some help.


It is totally normal for children to be anxious about school and exams (In fact, just between us, why they bother giving exams to 7-year-olds is beyond me!).  But your daughter’s reactions are not the normal ones.  I have a few thoughts about them, but I really want you to just use my thoughts as ideas to help you find more of an expert for her.


First, there’s a very common psychological problem called School Phobia.  And my guess is that your daughter has some of that.  Usually that’s something that happens to kids who just want to stay home, and are scared about being separated from their families.  But her fear seems more about her worries about the tests.


So what I’m seeing is that your daughter mainly has a ton of Anxiety. I don’t know if she’s worried that not doing perfectly will disappoint you, or if she’s just hyper-critical of herself, or what.  But whatever it is, this is not the way a girl her age should be living!


If you have access to one, I’d really strongly suggest you hire a good child therapist.  They’re trained in exactly this, and can probably help her a lot.  Most likely, she just has an anxious nature, and so getting some work done on it now will really help her as she gets older (when all those other issues show up in her life – like popularity and looks and sports and exams that actually mean something!).


If you can’t get a good therapist, though, I think the most important thing to do is anything to relieve her anxiety.  Sports can be good (just getting her to run some of that nervous energy off), singing and art are great, and of course the very best thing is to get her a dog! We are SO good at easing anxiety and helping people (especially kids) know how great they are!


Whatever you do, though, it’s really important that you keep telling her that you accept her as she is, and love her as she is.  Because even with the best therapist, and the best dog, in the world, it will always be your opinion that matters the most to her.


Good Luck, and please let me know how it’s going,



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