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I cannot get her up, dressed and fed without a huge fight...

Hi Mark,

It's good to be online with parent support. We are currently working our way through Week#1 and there is a lot to digest. I have a question already-I work on a Fri in a hospital and I have to drop my daughter at school by 0800hrs (before-school care) or I'm late for work. I cannot get her up, dressed and fed without a huge fight and find it hard to keep a Poker Face on these Fri mornings. Any other morning when she refuses to co-operate I can leave it up to the school to enforce their "Late Consequences" but I cannot be late for work. Some mornings if I let her she wouldn't go to school at all... I can see how I've become part of the Dependency Cycle as I will offer to help her dress as it's so much quicker.




Hi L.,

You need to be firm with her. Don't count on the problem going away if you ignore it. However, don't be angry with her as her anxiety and distress are real.

You need to find out what is troubling her. It could be school phobia (a fear of school), separation anxiety (fear of leaving you or the home) or agoraphobia (fear of crowds and public places). These are all very real disorders.

If someone is bullying, teasing, embarrassing, or abusing her, then it could be the first diagnosis. Talk to her teachers to find out what they know and to inform them of your experiences with your daughter.

Assume that your child is physically well and needs to go to school. Keep assuring her firmly and confidently that she'll be fine (and so will you) once she arrives. If she still claims of physical ailments, you have two options:

First, get her to school unless you determine that she truly is sick. In that case she would be running a fever, or have nausea and/ or diarrhea, etc. If she just tells you she doesn't feel well, that isn't enough to let her stay home. Adults often go to work with uncomfortable symptoms.

The second option is to believe her. Since she says she is too unwell to go to school, then clearly she is too unwell to be up and about the house. If she is sick then she is sick, and so she goes to bed: lights off, curtains closed, no TV, no special snacks. Ignore her and go about your normal daily routine. Make sure that the option of staying home is boring. If she is not sleeping then, ideally she should be doing some schoolwork. Certainly there should be no friends or visitors to entertain her.

You can also establish some rewards for going to school.

Be firm and remain calm. Let her know that you expect her to go to school, but don't argue with her if she resists. The goal her is for her to want to go back to school. Once she goes and finds out that she's fine, her previous symptoms should disappear.

Sleep Tips For Children 5-12—

· Prepare the room for sleep -- remove or put away toys that are associated with daytime activities, little or no light is ideal and be sure the room is cool and quiet.

· Let your child have a transitional object to go to sleep with like a doll or stuffed toy -- his association with this object will aid sleep.

· Avoid late night activities that can increase your child's adrenalin.

· Avoid frightening movies and video games close to bedtime.

· Avoid excessive drinking before bed so that your child is not tempted to wake up to go to the bathroom.

· A light nighttime snack can be helpful like cheese or milk -- both contain tryptophan, an amino acid that aids sleep.

· A bedtime routine should be very regimented -- the body likes consistency and the brain does too.

Sleep Tips For Teens 13-18—

· Physical activity should be avoided close to bedtime -- exercise five hours before sleep can be helpful but exercise too close to bedtime can be a stimulant and inhibit a good night's sleep.

· Bedtime should be consistent -- read something 10-15 minutes before bed, or take a bath/shower.

· Avoid stimulating activity like video games, computers and television in the bedroom.

· Avoid caffeine in the afternoon -- caffeine is a stimulant that can inhibit a healthy sleep night.

Stay in touch,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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