4th February 2005 at 00:00
School Phobia, Panic Attacks and Anxiety in Children. By Marianna Csoti. Jessica Kingsley. pound;16.95

In this book, school phobia is linked with many complex factors, including anxiety about separating from parents, fear of strangers and agoraphobia.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit disorder and bullying are also discussed briefly, along with social interaction problems as part of an autistic spectrum disorder.

The author is a teacher whose daughter suffered a range of stresses resulting in school phobia, and the text has the flavour of personal testimony, with need-to-know facts and practical tips, rather than an exploration of research into the topic.

In the resources section, songs with "feisty" words are recommended (for example, Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive") "to inspire timid children", together with herbal remedies, wrist bands and "rescue creams" (for example, Bach Flower Remedy rubbed onto pulse points in a panic attack).

This is an introductory survey that parents and teachers will find useful.

However, professionals may baulk at the superficial accounts, for example, of cognitive behaviour therapy, where Marianna Csoti writes "unrealistic or distorted thoughts can undermine self-confidence... Once the child thinks more realistically she will feel better and her symptoms will start to subside." If only it were that simple.

Alec Webster

Professor of educational psychology graduate school of education, University of Bristol

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