One of the reasons that I started homeschooling Rebecca is that her anxiety level for the last few years had become very high. Transitions, and especially standardized tests had begun to really stress her out. Stomachaches and headaches were a part of her daily life and really killing the joy of learning and trying new things.
One of the most vexing manifestations of this anxiety has been claustrophobia/agoraphobia in restaurants. Everything would start out fine, but once we placed our orders I could see her starting to panic. She'd be afraid she was going to be sick, her head would pound.
We stopped eating out.
She's been working on relaxation techniques which have been very helpful. I also think that getting out of the daily school grind and taking a less high stakes approach to learning has been amazing. Her stomach rarely hurts and her headaches are far less frequent.
The real test was today.
We went to Zaftigs for lunch.
Not only did we go out to lunch, we went to a noisy, crowded restaurant.
I didn't make a big deal of it. We just went. We brought books in case there was a wait and that seemed to calm her. Once we were seated she ordered and read a bit while Lily and I played tic-tac-toe. When our food came we oohed and ahhhed over everything and reader, she did great.
It was really remarkable and I was so relieved for her. I know that the more positive experiences she has, the more comfortable she will be in restaurants.
I've commented before about the sweet rush of emotional joy which is parental relief. Watching her knots loosen was wonderful and untied a few of my own.