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The Award Winning Anxiety-Free Child Program provides information and resources to help your child overcome their anxiety FAST. TweetObsessive-compulsive disorder is not limited to adults alone, as evidenced by the book Ten Turtles on Tuesday (Magination Press). If your child is worrying about where to sit at lunch or whether or not he or she will make the volleyball team, those may be common childhood worries afflicting most any child. OCD, officially known as obsessive-compulsive disorder, is marked by obsessive fears or thoughts that can lead someone into a series of compulsive actions, and both children and adults can suffer from it. Sarah is the main character in the illustrated children’s book Ten Turtles on Tuesday, a story about obsessive-compulsive disorder geared toward the 8 to 13 age group. She’s often late, misses the bus or otherwise messes up the normal routine of her life due to her need to count, count, count and then count some more. Written in a mixture of diary entries and narrative, the reader gets the insights into OCD through the eyes of a child their age suffering through it. While OCD doesn’t go away in a day, for Sarah or for anyone, the story shows how it can be alleviated with help, practice and proper tools. School psychologist Ellen Flanagan Burns has a knack for writing stories, and she dedicates her storytelling efforts to helping children cope with anxiety.
We asked: You mention in the introduction you struggled with OCD as a young girl, then made the decision to stop giving into your urges. Ellen said: I’m one of five children and my siblings and I witnessed our older brother dealing with OCD symptoms from a young age. Then I started feeling urges to fix my shoes in a certain way or touch something as I walked by. One day my friend and I were riding together on the same bike; I was sitting on the seat and she was peddling.
Even now, I may get an occasional urge connected to a fearful thought, but I just notice it and let it go, like a balloon floating away.
With everyone though, the more willing a person is to feel the uncomfortable feelings that go along with not performing the compulsion, the more likely he will be to break free of OCD.
According to current studies, millions of Americans are diagnosed with OCD, with the first symptoms often beginning in childhood or adolescence.
Sarah sees that just because she has the thought that her mother is hurt, it doesn’t mean she really is. In the book I use the analogy of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, looking behind the curtain and discovering that the Wizard doesn’t really have magical powers.
Ten Turtles on Tuesday encourages children to look behind the curtain (not give in to an urge, even if done in baby steps), to feel the uncomfortable feelings that go along with that, and to ultimately discover that there’s nothing to fear after all. What are some signs of OCD parents could look out for if their children are perhaps too scared or ashamed to speak up about it? What starts out as a clever way to relieve anxiety often escalates into a bigger problem: OCD. Important DisclaimerAll material provided on this website is provided for informational or education purposes only.
By teaching your children or teenagers to meditate, you’re arming them with knowledge they can use as adults.
Think back to a time when you were obviously short on sleep yet still had to face a busy day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no magic number for the amount of sleep that a person needs because everyone’s sleep needs are a bit different. Studies suggest that the association between sleep and anxiety may be largely due to the insufficient amount of REM sleep that sleep deprived individuals are experiencing.
Night terrors are relatively rare, with the KidsHealth website reporting they affect only 3 to 6 percent of children. Night terrors can make your anxious child scream, sweat, hyperventilate and thrash around violently. Unlike nightmares that can leave a huge imprint in a child’s memory, night terrors can come and go with your child being none the wiser.
Kids may be reluctant to go back to sleep after nightmares while sleep can return pretty much instantly after a night terror episode. Most night terrors occur when kids are between the ages of 4 and 12, although cases have been documented in children as young as 18 months. Mummy movies, horror stories and TV violence may be the things of nightmares, but they do not necessarily contribute to night terrors.
While the cause may remain unknown, it is known that the terrors stem from the central nervous system becoming overly aroused during sleep. Night terrors, and the tendency for over-arousal of the nervous system, can also run in the family. Seeking outside help for night terrors may not be necessary in all cases, but it may be helpful in others.

Other ways to help your child alleviate stress and anxiety include mindfulness, breathing exercises, proper nutrition and yoga.
In cases where the night terrors are consistently disrupting your lives or your doctor feels medication is the path to take, Mayo Clinic notes night benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants have been prescribed for the night terrors. One of the worst things you can do while children are experiencing night terrors is to try to wake them up, according to KidsHealth. What you can do, especially if your child’s night terrors are prompted by anxiety and stress, is to make bedtime and life less stressful for your child. Fresh on the market this year, the book is written by school psychologist Ellen Flanagan Burns, illustrated by Sue Cornelison and contains a handy kid-friendly afterward by Michael Tompkins, PhD.
But if your child is worried about the same issue again and again, and may even devise rituals or habits in the hopes that a particular fear will never come true, that may be a sign of OCD. Written by school psychologist Ellen Flanagan Burns, the tale takes the reader through the struggles of Sarah, a girl obsessed with one of the biggest fears any child could have: that her mother is going to die. She opens and shuts her closet door 10 times, eats her cereal in 12 bites, takes eight steps from the stairs to the door. In addition to Ten Turtles on Tuesday, she also authored Nobody’s Perfect: A Story for Children about Perfectionism. It was disruptive – not only for him, but for the entire family.  His compulsions took up a lot of time and we were often waiting for him, feeling frustrated and annoyed. I knew it didn’t make any sense but I did it anyway because it temporarily relieved the anxiety I felt when I thought about something bad happening. Children with OCD must learn to separate OCD thoughts (obsessions) from normal thoughts, worries or feelings.
Sometimes a thought is just a thought, she discovers.  It’s also important to learn how to resist urges. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Therefore, it is reasonable that many children have a hard time knowing how to handle their anger, as well.As children grow and mature, they learn about how to manage their feelings, how to act when they feel certain emotions, and what emotions are “acceptable” and which ones are not. 5 Great Resources for PECS materials Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Recent CommentsHeather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA: Thank you for your comment. The earlier your son or daughter learns to handle stress effectively, the better able he or she will be to respond to conflict. Maybe you spent a good portion of the night up with a sick child but still had to be at work early the next day, or perhaps you tossed and turned thinking about an upcoming assignment and barely slept a wink the night before you were due at your friends house to help them move the furniture. Some reasons are physical (such as sleep apnea), while others are psychological (such as sleep anxiety or insomnia).
During REM sleep (the stage of sleep in which dreaming occurs), the brain processes emotions, and sorts through stressful events. You may notice a rapid heart rate, dilated pupils and a totally confused and disoriented state. Kids often don’t remember anything about the night terrors once they wake up the next morning. You can also usually hug or otherwise comfort a child to calm him or her down after a nightmare, while no amount of calming is likely to stop a night terror in progress. Nightmares can haunt all ages, any time, while night terrors typically disappear once your child begins to get older. The exact cause of night terrors is still unknown, although they can definitely be triggered by various issues, Anxiety is at the top of the list of potential triggers, which means your anxious child may be a very viable candidate for suffering from these scary things. The central nervous system regulates sleep and waking brain activity, says, and children’s central nervous systems are still maturing. KidsHealth reports an estimated 80 percent of people who suffer from night terrors have another family member who also suffers from night terrors or the similar disturbance of sleep walking. Medline says to get thy child to a doctor if the night terrors are severe, occur regularly, occur frequently and come with symptoms other than those expected by the terrors. Night terrors may be triggered by excess anxiety or other conditions, in which case the condition, not the night terrors, should be targeted. As long as you ensure your child will not thrash into objects that can injure him or her, your child will most likely calm down and resume sleeping. Kids Health and Mayo Clinic offer a number of tips for coping with existing night terrors and preventing future night terrors from taking hold. Take out the ninja killer toys and the giant scowling clown and put in a few soft Teddy bears or other comforting objects.
She’s too ashamed to tell anyone about her obsessive counting, but is sadly finding it’s ruling her life. And it doesn’t hurt to do one more thing done by Sarah and by the author herself as a girl.
Suddenly I had an urge to touch a leaf on the side of the road and I asked my friend to pull over.

In Ten Turtles on Tuesday, Sarah, with the help of a therapist, learns to do this in steps.
When a child resists an urge, it’s like Dorothy looking behind the curtain (of OCD) and discovering that there’s really no danger after all.
Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
Many mental health professionals will claim that all emotions are acceptable or that all emotions are okay. This can prevent burnout, fights with peers, and the development of self-destructive habits. Try to remember what you were feeling at the time and how your reactions may have differed from those of a person who was experiencing the same chain of events after a restful night of sleep. Your child may remain writhing in this distressed and horrific state for 10 to 20 minutes – then roll over and go back to sleep as if nothing ever happened. They are not likely to remember them, and they sure as heck won’t be able to tell you why they happened.
Or he or she may suffer from an entire series of night terrors over an extended period of time. A doctor visit may also be in order if your anxious child’s night terrors result in injury, either your child’s or someone else’s.
Eleven to 13 hours is the recommended dose for children ages 3 to 5; children ages 6 to 12 should get between 10 to 11 hours of sleep.
For starters, you want to make sure the environment is safe if and when your anxious child begins to thrash, kick, sleepwalk or otherwise engage in movements associated with night terrors. Even if night terrors are not triggered by horrific things in the bedroom, most people generally get better quality sleep if they’re not being stared at by an evil clown doll. I noticed that my obsessions and compulsions ebbed and flowed based on my level of anxiety.
By resisting an urge (compulsion) and accepting the uncomfortable feelings that go along with it, Sarah discovers that nothing bad happens – that there is really no danger after all.
The author is not a therapist, psychologist, physician, or other mental health or medical professional. In the unlikely even that your question is not answered by our FAQ, you may submit a customer service request by clicking here. Sleep deprivation can impact all areas of a person’s life and is thought to be one of the main contributors to anxiety. When it comes to children and adolescents, the American Academy of Anxiety considers lack of sleep to be a major cause of psychological and physical impairments. In fact, night terrors are believed to intrude while your child’s sleep is transitioning from the non-REM to the REM stage. Engage in a soothing activity before bed, such as giving your child a warm bath, reading a story or listening to calming music. Fatigue and lack of sleep are on the list of night terror triggers and adequate sleep doubles as an overall way to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and perhaps even keep those tiresome tantrums at bay. Safety gates across doorways, locked windows and the removal of sharp objects can make a room less prone to causing injury. I couldn’t explain it, and although I felt embarrassed, her reaction helped me see just how ridiculous and meaningless the need to touch the leaf really was. It is no wonder than that a restful nights sleep can make a notable difference when it comes to a child with anxiety.
Physical symptoms may include: headaches, hyperactivity, dizziness, sore muscles, and impaired coordination. While this transition usually goes off without a hitch, it can be disrupted by a sudden, inexplicable fear reaction that results in a night terror episode. Make the bedtime routine a relaxing highlight of the day that’s conducive to relaxation and sleep. You can find out a great deal from a child if you just let them talk without providing any of your own input. Even if sleep deprivation is not the cause of a child’s anxiety, a sleep shortage is likely to heighten anxiety symptoms such as irritability, impatience, poor impulse control, increased frustration, and difficulty regulating emotions. Everyone can feel angry sometimes, but when anger is experienced excessively, it can lead to some not so good outcomes. Heather has also obtained a master's degree in clinical social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology with a youth services minor.

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