Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When we think of anxiety, we think of job interviews and trouble making friends. However, there are some other ways that anxiety arises that we might not always be aware of…

 

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Q: What is the root of bed-wetting?

A: Bed-wetting, or enuresis, is a more common occurrence than most people realize. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about twenty-five percent of five-year-olds and ten percent of six-year-olds wet their beds. Bed-wetting is often attributed to a psychological or anxiety disorder, but new research is actually proving that this is not always the case. Below are some common causes of bed-wetting:

Genetics: If both parents wet their beds after the age of 6, there is a 75% chance that the child will wet his bed as well. If only one parent wet the bed, there is still a 44% chance of bed-wetting.

Developmental Lag: Just as some children are late talkers or walkers, there are children who are late in controlling their bladder while sleeping. Eventually, even with a lag, all children learn to walk or talk, so too, will they learn how to stay dry at night.

Deep sleep: Some children sleep so deeply, they cannot recognize when their bladder is full and therefore do not have enough time to get to the bathroom.

Small bladder: Physically, the child might have a small bladder and therefore the bladder might overfill at night, causing nighttime urination.

While extremely frustrating to the parent, the American Academy of Family Physicians states that up until the age of six, bed-wetting is not abnormal. After the age of six, they suggest several methods in order to prevent it:

Limit fluids before bedtime.
Have your child go to the bathroom at the beginning of the nighttime routine and then again right before sleep.
Create a reward system for dry nights.
Ask your child to change the sheets after they get wet.
Have your child train his bladder by holding his urine for longer times during the day.

While encouraging your child to take responsibility for bed-wetting (like asking him to change the sheets), remember that it is important not to get angry or inflict guilt in your child. He is not bed-wetting because he is too lazy to get out of bed, so punishing him for actions that are beyond his control (and probably already cause him embarrassment) will only worsen the problem.

In some rare cases, bed-wetting can be triggered by anxiety. A divorce, move, or death in the family can cause significant stress on parents and children. The resulting change in lifestyle might prompt a child to begin bed-wetting. For instance, if the family moves from one city to another, parents might assume that the child is having trouble holding his bladder at night because of the emotional stress of leaving his old friends behind. However, the new floor plan of the house might be the true culprit. The child is not used to going to the bathroom down the hall, as he was used to the one right next door in his old home.

Finding the root of bed-wetting – whether genetic, physical, or emotional – is the first step towards curing it. Nonetheless, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if your child had a choice, he wouldn’t wet his bed. Therefore, large servings of both compassion and patience are also necessary remedies for the problem.

 

Q: Whenever I discuss shidduchim with my twenty-two year old daughter, she becomes nervous and panicky. She blushes when she even talks about meeting someone new and I notice her palms get all sweaty. She has always had trouble making friends and prefers small groups to large ones, but her fear of shidduchim is holding her back from meeting her future chosson. I keep telling her to relax and be herself, but I just don’t think I am getting through to her. Is there anything I can do?

A: While I cannot know for sure without having met your daughter, it sounds like she has some form of social anxiety. In 2001, in The New York Times, Margaret Talbot reported that around 13% of the population is affected by social phobias. While social anxiety was originally considered a rare condition, in the late 90s, psychologists, teachers, and parents began to identify it as a much more common issue.

Social phobias are characterized not only by nervousness when in social situations or when forced to give a presentation or speech, but also by a powerful desire to avoid most situations that involve interacting with others. People who believe they might have social phobia exhibit some the following symptoms:

Frequently blushing in front of people
Sweating in front of people
Trembling or shaking in front of others
Heart palpitations around people
Fear of embarrassment causes them to avoid speaking to people
Aversion to speaking to anyone in authority
Going to great lengths to avoid criticism
Excessive fear of strangers

Many people might exhibit one or two symptoms of social anxiety – after all, who isn’t sometimes uncomfortable when talking to strangers? However, it is the severity of the fear and the frequency of these reactions that classify people with social anxiety.

Here are some suggestions for helping your daughter deal with her social anxiety:

            Raise awareness. Many people are not aware that social anxiety exists. Helping your daughter understand that what she is feeling is relatable and treatable may relieve some of the stress that she feels.

            Reframe thoughts. Your daughter can recognize that her thoughts cause her feelings and behaviors, rather than external things, such as people, situations, and events. The benefit of this recognition is that once she realizes that the way she thinks influences the way she feels, she can then function even if the situation does not change.

            Social skills training. Through role-playing and interactive activities, your daughter can learn communication skills. If she understands that she has these skills in her social arsenal, she will feel more in control when she meets someone for the first time.

            Breathing exercises. Teaching your daughter relaxation breathing can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. This will, in turn, help her calm her mind when it begins to race.

Most importantly, it is integral to take your daughter’s fear seriously. If you minimize her anxiety, you will only be sending her the message that you do not recognize the very real emotions she is experiencing. Validate her feelings and then work with her to overcome them.

 

Register now for an anger management workshop by Dr. Ross Greene on November 14, 2017. Please call Mrs. Schonfeld at 718-382-5437 for more information.

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.