Dear Mimi, For the past two weeks my son, who's seven, has been having separation anxiety. The worst part of it all is that he has fear of something happening to me while he is at school. Two weeks ago I didn't have time to make him lunch, so I told him I would bring it later in the day. I got there a little late, and he was in tears. His teacher said he was worried that I might have gotten into an accident. Lately each morning when I take him to school, he complains about his stomach hurting. This is really making me not be able to work. How can I take away his fear that something is going to happen to me? --Angela
A: Dear Angela, First of all, don't take your son's recent fears personally. Parents are only human, and we all make mistakes-like missing a carpool or a pick-up time, or forgetting to make a lunch.
What you can do is give him constant reassurance that you are always there for him. Let him know that you are always together, even when you are at work and he is at school and that you hold him in your heart. He can touch his heart and feel your love there, or he can pretend you are a "miniature mom" tucked always in his pocket.
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Call your son's teacher to discuss strategies for empowering him to conquer his in-school fears.
Talk to your son about his worries. Give him a vocabulary for his feelings.
The light of God surrounds me The love of God enfolds me The power of God protects me The presence of God watches over me Wherever I am God is and all is well --Unity
Encourage him to write his worries on a piece of paper and hang the paper on a worry-wish tree. This can be an actual tree that grows outside your home or an inside plant. You can even make a tree out of construction paper and hang it on the wall, or your son can create a tree in his imagination. The idea is to place his worries on it, then let them go.
Come up with some kind of worry rock or worry bead he can slip into his pocket while he is at school.
Teach your child to say the following prayer/affirmation. It's been very soothing and comforting for my daughters when they face fears:
Visualize your son surrounded in a beautiful cocoon of light. Assure him that he is strong and safe and that his angels are always with him.
It is always best to trust your child and treat his fears respectfully. If you try to convince him that there is nothing to be afraid of, it will only increase his tension.
Don't forget to ask your son what he thinks might help him when these fears grab hold and fill him with terror. Ask him to close his eyes and go deep within to that powerful source of guidance for the answer. See what he comes up with. Kids often have the richest source of solutions for their own problems.