In this age of helicopter parents and protective child professionals, we can often recreate a potent anxiety- reinforcing system around children that not only rewards anxiety, but encourages it to grow and take over even more of the child’s life.
Despite huge gains in knowledge about the neurophysiological and psychological roots of anxiety, as well as the billions spent each year on psychotropic medications meant to assuage anxiety, Americans are more anxious than ever. Anxiety disorders—OCD, phobias, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety—are by far the most commonly diagnosed disorders in America, especially among the young. More than 30 percent of children up to age 18 receive one of these diagnoses at some point, and anxiety symptoms are the primary reason parents seek out a mental health professional for their child.
Why are our children so anxious and getting more so? (Click on the picture to finish reading this article!)
You might think your gifted child is too intelligent to worry, but you’d be wrong.
Smart kids worry as much, maybe more, than the average kid, and therapist Allison Edwards, a graduate of John F. Hodge High School in St. James who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., has a private practice and teaches at Vanderbilt University, has written a book for parents of smart kids.
I use The Worry Bag as an intervention with children to help develop coping skills to use when they are feeling anxious. I use a mesh bag as seen in this picture. Symbols for different interventions are placed inside that the child feels can help them deal with anxious feelings. They can carry this bag with them, in the car, or in a backpack so they can use their coping skills to help manage their feelings of anxiety.
Stay tuned as I share some of my ideas on how to make a Worry Bag . . .
I like to add a note book and pencil or pen (sometimes a smelly pencil to help with focus) to the worry bag. I challenge children to write a story about another child struggling with a worry and then, ask them to write about what they think this child could do to cope with their feelings. This exercise helps children build confidence in their ability to come up with solutions to manage anxiety.
Set of 32 cards to download and cut out to play a therapy game. The cards feature eight children with different anxiety profiles. Card users identify with the children described on the cards and increase awareness of their own anxiety issues.
I ask children to think of a happy thought, or for older children I might do a guided imagery to find a happy thought or place that helps trigger a feeling of calm and peacefulness. We then talk about, when feeling anxious how they can take a moment to close their eyes and imagine this place or a thought to help themselves calm their mind and body. We then use this key chain which is the type that you can slide a picture inside the plastic. We would draw a word or picture that would help them remember their coping skill, slide the picture in the key chain and add the key chain to the Worry Bag.
Is it any wonder so many children are anxious? As the recent horror in Connecticut demonstrates, children today may be confronted with unthinkable realities, events that their parents and grandparents could never have conceived.
But much of what children fear is rooted more in imagination than in reality. Parents may be called upon to ease anxieties about everything from strange noises to water, from spiders in the yard to monsters under the bed. Comforting children seized with irrational fears can be a difficult task.
The Worry Wars is a step-by-step guide to helping children conquer their fears. Three heroic characters battle formidable fears and defeat them. Children who struggle with anxiety will identify with one or more of the hopeful and beautifully illustrated metaphoric stories that provide a springboard for dozens of fun, clinically sound interventions. The activities provide child-friendly ways to:
• Understand how anxiety works
• Identify worries and anxious thoughts
• Develop and practice adaptive coping strategies
• Practice relaxation
• Create and practice cognitions to help boss back the worries
• Develop an attack plan that includes doing the scary thing anyway
… but in a gradual way that allows the child to experience a sense of mastery.
A variety of fun reproducibles help children and their helpful adults plan their battles, record their successes and track rewards as they gradually boss back the worry. Finally, activities are provided to help families celebrate after they emerge victorious from the Worry Wars.
Anxiety has the power to stop kids in their tracks, preventing them from exploring and growing into independent teens and young adults. Casey, the fourteen year old narrator of Playing with Anxiety, knows all too well how worry can interrupt fun, ruin school, and take control of a family. In this companion book to Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons’ parenting book, Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children (HCI Books, 2013), Casey shares her own experiences and those of her friends to teach kids and teens the strategies to handle the normal worries of growing as well as the more powerful tricks of anxiety. With pluck and humor, Casey tells stories, offers exercises, and describes her “solving the puzzle” approach that kids and their parents can use to address all types of worries and fears.
There are many different children’s books to read about fears in the night. The Monster Bed is one of my favorites! I also really like the Genuine Monster Spray, which can then be added to the Worry Bag to help when needed!
Children who are anxious can learn to develop skills to self-soothe and regulate their emotional state. Providing your child with an opportunity to learn some new strategies in a way that is aligned with their natural learning process is the easiest way to help your child develop coping strategies that they will actually use.
Just prior to selecting one of the following visualization tools, guide your child into a relaxed space. Find a comfortable position with few distractions. Take a few deep breaths together and explain that the purpose of your meeting is to use your imagination to “say goodbye to worries”. For especially anxious children, you will need to have a meeting daily for a while so that their minds can rehearse and repeat this practice, establishing new mental patterns that promote calm and ease. – See more at: http://kidsrelaxation.com/2012/02/27/7-visualization-tools-for-releasing-worry/#sthash.UxJ4FF41.dpuf
Anxiety has become a regular part of our society and daily lives for our children (and ourselves). Worry and fear cause our children to feel bad, often cause parent-child conflict and stress, keep our children from fully experiencing life, and fully reaching their potential. As a psychologist, parent of worriers, and a pretty good worrier myself, I have learned that there are simple and effective strategies that kids (and parents) can learn to drive the Worry Monster away. Teaching kids about how fear and worry work in their bodies, and specific thinking and doing strategies to fight the Worry Monster, empowers them to take a stand against this bully.
In this story children become their own Heros who drive frightening, imaginary creatures away. Each bad dream has a secret solution to reducing the Big Scary Monster, Dragon or Whatever to a not-at-all, scary creature. The author writes with a fun poetic cadence and the full-color illustrations are carefully and beautifully drawn to show the Monsters as what they really are, imaginary. This is a good talking-point book to have if your child has nightmares or just a fun, silly book to read together. We can then place a magic wand or metaphor for imagination in the Worry Bag, to help us remember how to use our imagination when dealing with a night time fear.
At the time, her anxiety was so overwhelming, she had trouble leaving the house. She’d curl up in the fetal position and cry. A lot. (It sucked.) – See more at: http://imaginationsoup.net/2012/09/our-daughters-anxiety-connected-to-sensory-processing-disorder/#sthash.H6hjxexa.dpuf
Have you read Maya Angelou’s Life Doesn’t Frighten Me? What worries you? Turn
your concerns over to a Worry Warrior and find courage to conquer them! (Click picture for technique)
Goal: Students create a Courage Connection. Students talk to a friend, family member, or teacher about a worry. Take the worry back out of the Worry Warrior and erase the worry. Replace it with an idea for conquering the concern–your Courage Connection! Add an eraser to the Worry Bag, to be a metaphor for this skill.
Authors of the federally funded study say past research has linked parental anxiety to anxiety in children, but it remained unclear whether people with certain anxiety disorders engaged more often in anxiety-provoking behaviors. Based on the new study findings, they do. A report on the team’s findings appears online ahead of print in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development.
It’s Monday. Back to school, back to work, back to the hamster wheel. Pack the lunches, get one kid on the bus, the other ready for carpool, and make the early meeting on time. Get your daughter off her phone and on the bus. No time for breakfast yourself. Spilled coffee on your pants racing out the door because it’s your turn for carpool and school starts at 7:30. At least you’ll get to work on time. Bing! Text from your daughter — FGT VIOLIN. CAN U BRING IT?
Mondays no longer mean back to work, it’s back to work in the office. You’ve been answering emails all weekend — a few here, a few there; your phone makes it so easy — so why doesn’t it feel like you had a weekend at all?
A Relaxation Story designed to teach children visualization techniques to increase creativity while lowering stress and anxiety levels by Lori Lite • Illustrated by Max Stasuyk • ISBN 9781937985035 • Paperback FREE domestic shipping Available below as an eBook download for the iPad, Kindle, most eReaders, Tablets and computers
Children learn fun visualization techniques as they imagine filling and relaxing their bodies with the colors of the rainbow. A sea child and turtle take children on a bubble ride into the world of relaxation. Visualization, also known as creative imagery, can lower stress and anxiety levels. Visualizing is the ability to form a mental image of, or use your imagination.
Anxiety is a tangible force in the lives of many kids. It may range from mild to severe and can impact both social and academic aspects of a child’s life. Knowing what to say to help can make all the difference in the life of an anxious child.
This is one scary monster! Make your own Big Green Monster felt story and teach your child about there face. This interactive project will make reading this story really fun for your little one. I let my daughter help me build the Big Green Monsters face while I read this adorable book. Each page build a part of the monsters face. Here is a simple pattern to help you make your own Green Monster.
Fear, worry, and anxiety are normal occurrences within the life of a child. Helping children to understand and process these emotions often falls in the hands of parents, who by their own admission often feel painfully concerned, overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with these kinds of feelings. The only prototypes available to most families are those carried forward from generation to generation, with little information regarding the physiological and psychological facts surrounding anxiety, and even less regard for what children are feeling and thinking in the face of these emotions. Stomach aches, increased crying, refusal to go to school, irritability, changes in toileting habits, sleeplessness and nightmares, tics, eating too little or too much, increased need to sleep with parents, inattentiveness in school, preoccupation with negative thoughts, insatiable needs for reassurance, clinginess, increased startle responses, separation issues, self imposed isolation, repetitive behaviors and sadness can all be indicators of anxiety and worry in a child. How hard is it for a parent to remain calm and understanding in the face of their own child’s fears, especially if they are unprepared and unsure of what to say? Becoming alarmed in the face of these behaviors and changes can only exacerbate the situation, and will certainly not do much to calm a child’s fears.
The Huge Bag of Worries Author: Virginia Ironside Illustrator: Frank Rodgers How this book may help: A good starting point to encourage children to discuss their anxieties and fears. It may also help children to realise that many children suffer with anxiety.
Jenny has been worrying a lot lately, about a lot of different things. Is she getting too fat? … read more
We all know our parents have a big impact on our lives, but new evidence is emerging that our parents’ behaviors before we are born may have a bigger influence on us than we previously imagined.
Epigenetic research is a hot-button topic at the moment, generating a lot of attention in both scientific studies and the media. Epigenetics is the ability of genes to be influenced by our experiences, altering our genetic make-up in real time. By changing the chemical signals that course through your brain and body, you can actually turn genes on or off, a process that can then influence your future actions. Thus, in some ways, epigenetics can be thought of as the bridge between nature and nurture—your behavior and environment affecting your biology, and vice versa.
Laugh and learn as you help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down and solve everyday challenges. This bilingual (English and Spanish), research-based app helps your child learn Sesame’s “Breathe, Think, Do” strategy for problem-solving. Tap and touch to help the monster friend take deep breaths, think of plans, and try them out!
She took a regular plastic box and filled it with many wonderful items that support relaxation in the moment. Often when my students have anxious moments, they like to choose. More choice means feeling like you are more in control and the result is a more relaxed mind and body. Here are some ideas for items to include when making your own “Calm My Body Box”
A Relaxation Story, introducing deep breathing to decrease anxiety, stress and anger while promoting peaceful sleep
Children will love to experience belly breathing with playful sea otters and a sea child. This effective, self-calming technique also known as “diaphragmatic breathing” can have a positive impact on your child’s health. Proper breathing can lower stress and anxiety levels. It can be used to decrease pain and anger. Delightful characters and easy breathing encourage your child to slow down, relax, and fall asleep peacefully. This is one of four stories featured on the Indigo Ocean Dreams CD.
Stress, when it’s chronic or repeated, does more than unnerve us; it can make us physically sick. It dampens the immune system and dries out the digestive tract, setting the stage for disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to ulcerative colitis. It impairs memory and in extreme cases fuels anxiety. It can even gnaw away at the ends of chromosomes, thereby accelerating cellular aging.
It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that this villain is also—paradoxically—a wellspring of life. Without stress, we’d be as good as dead. We wouldn’t have the gumption to slalom down Whistler’s mountains to Olympic gold, to play Juliet to our Romeo, to ask the boss for a raise, or even to get out of bed.
That’s because stress in appropriate amounts is the very stimulation that keeps us engaged with the world moment to moment.
Keep My Worry Box and My Worry Pad in a convenient place, like the child’s bedside table or on a dresser.
Instruct your child that whenever they have a worry, he or she should write it down on My Worry Pad and put the worry in My Worry Box.
Every now and then, maybe at a special time at the end of the day, open My Worry Box with him or her and review the worries. Talk about each worry, how he or she is feeling and share some ways to handle the problem causing the worry. You might find some of the worries have gone away on their own, while others might not and need to be talked out. If the worry has gone away, discard the written worry. My Worry Box helped handle it! If not, keep it in My Worry Box for later review.
How Does My Worry Box Help?
This common and effective therapeutic journaling technique used by child therapists can help your child learn to manage his or her worries better in three ways:
First, by writing down their worries, your child can get a clear idea of what he or she is worried about. This makes the worry easier to communicate to someone else later. Also, My Worry Box gives your child a safe place to “park” his or her worries so he or she doesn’t have to keep mulling them over in his or her mind all the time. Children who use My Worry Box know they will review the worries soon with an adult they trust, so they can set the worry aside for a time and get on with other things in their life.
Second, My Worry Box sparks conversation between you and your child. Often, children and adults can be uncomfortable or scared to bring up a worry out of the blue. My Worry Box gives you and your child a reason to connect. Every now and then, your child should open My Worry Box with an adult he or she trusts and review the worries inside. The adult will get an insight into what is on the child’s mind and the child will learn that the adult is “safe” for sharing their worries. After they have talked about a worry, if it still is bothering the child, he or she puts it back into My Worry Box for review later. If it is not a worry for them anymore, then throw that worry away. You have helped them with that worry.
Third, over time, your child may begin to learn better ways to manage his or her worries. My Worry Box helps your child recognize the types of worries that are a waste of time and that by writing and talking about worries with a trusted person, your child can find outside places for help.
Your daughter is worried again. She doesn’t want to go to school tomorrow. She says she thinks she’s getting sick…you know better. You’ve been here before. You feel helpless and overwhelmed, not sure how to help. You encourage her to “take a deep breath,” but it doesn’t seem to help. You wish she had the tools to calm herself down, rather than relying so much on you.
Your child can learn to calm their anxious feelings on their own. In order for this to be successful, you will need to give your child access to a variety of calming techniques, so they can choose the one that works best. It may also be helpful to encourage everyone in the family to use the calming strategies (parents included!) whenever they feel stressed or worried.
Dr. Aureen Pinto Wagner has been pursuing her passion of helping kids, teens and their families learn to conquer anxiety for over 25 years. As a clinical child psychologist, her unique Worry Hill® approach has made cognitive-behavioral therapy more accessible to youngsters and has gained her international recognition. She has received the Self-Help Seal of Merit from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies for her books, Up and Down the Worry Hill, What to do When your Child has OCD and Worried No More: Help and Hope for Anxious Children.
In my last blog, I talk about worry and anxiety and how these emotions manifest themselves as stressors for our children both physically and emotionally. I talked about how we as parents can treat these feelings as if they were brought about by the Worry Monster, which our children can learn to battle like warriors with the right knowledge and tools.
Now, in this second installment of this series, I will lay out all of the faces the Worry Monster can wear from the most basic levels of stress to the most challenging types of anxiety.
Consumer health text provides a tool for children for using their imaginations to cope with pain, whether by itself or as part of a more comprehensive pain management plan. Also includes an extensive note to parents that explains the techniques of imagery and deep breathing, and how to help children use them.
Parents often ask me how to help children who are “shy.”A large NIMH study in 2011 found that half of all teenagers in the United States think of themselves as shy. But what does shy even mean?
Some children who are considered shy are highly sensitive, meaning very aware of and strongly affected by their environment. Others are introverted, meaning that they need time away from other people to renew their energy. Some children are so absorbed in their own projects and ideas that they’re less interested in social interaction. Other children who are described as shy want very much to connect socially but feel awkward or anxious. And of course, there can be overlap among children who fit these descriptions.
Sally Sanders is good at everything she does, or so it seems. Secretly she is afraid that if she can’t do something well, or be the best, she will feel like a failure. She is scared that she is not “good enough.” As a perfectionist, hitting the wrong note at a piano recital, or not making the soccer team feels like the end of the world!Gradually, through the help of her teachers and mother, Sally learns to have fun and not worry so much about being the best. She realizes that making mistakes is a part of learning, and that doing her best is good enough.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Anxious Children offers a complete professional treatment program designed to help children ages nine through twelve who struggle with anxiety. This twelve-session protocol can be used to treat anxious children in group or individual therapy. The poems, stories, session summaries, and home practice activities on the enclosed CD-ROM supplement child therapy sessions and parent meetings to illuminate mindful awareness concepts and practices. In twelve simple sessions, children will learn new ways to relate to anxious thoughts and feelings and develop the ability to respond to life events with greater awareness and confidence.
Strategies to guide parents in helping your child deal with his fears and anxieties.
Parents can help children develop the skills and confidence to overcome fears so that they don’t evolve into phobic reactions. The following steps will guide you in helping your child deal with his fears and anxieties.
The thought of losing control can cause major problems for children who live with anxiety. Now, parents, teachers and children have a helpful tool that gives young children an opportunity to explore their own feelings with parents or teachers as they react to events in their daily lives. Engaging and easy to read, this illustrated children s book is filled with opportunities for children to participate in developing their own self-calming strategies. Children who use the simple strategies in this charming book, illustrated by the author, will find themselves relaxed and ready to focus on work or play!
Children are increasingly anxious, stressed out and overly worried. Part of that has to do with increased pressures to excel in school, sports and extracurricular activities. But part of it has a lot to do with parents.
Like other mental and physical health problems, anxiety can be inherited. And some children are more vulnerable because of the way their anxious parents “parent.”
Children whose parents struggle with anxiety are 2- to 7-times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves, according to Golda Ginsburg, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who studies childhood anxiety.
That’s partly a result of how parents view the world. If they see it as a scary place, their children often do as well. Parents are a child’s role model for many behaviors, including anxiety, says Ginsburg. “So if a parent is showing anxiety, jumping up on a table when they see a mouse versus reacting calmly, we know children are more likely to develop fears similar to what their parents are showing.”
I use The Worry Bag as an intervention with children to help develop coping skills to use when they are feeling anxious. I use a mesh bag as seen in this picture. Symbols for different interventions are placed inside that the child feels can help them deal with anxious feelings.
You can order this starter kit by calling 1-414-431-6400. Please identify that you are calling to order The Worry Bag Starter Kit.
Childhood should be a happy, carefree time. Yet too many children are stressed-out and exhibiting symptoms of anxiety. In Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, childhood anxiety expert Dr. Tamar Chansky shares a proven approach for helping children build emotional resilience for a happier and healthier life.
Meet Beatrice Bottomwell: a nine-year-old girl who has never (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, Beatrice holds the record of perfection in her hometown, where she is known as The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. Life for Beatrice is sailing along pretty smoothly until she does the unthinkable–she makes her first mistake. And in a very public way!
A perfect color and learn book for your child. Ideal for ages 9 and up. Kids learn a simple and fun 5 step process that helps them think intentionally so they can overcome stress and worry, reach goals and gain more happiness all while having fun coloring!
Help your child to make a ‘nightmare safe’ out of a shoe box. At night before he goes to bed, sit with him and encourage him to put all his scary thoughts in the box for you to take and keep safely away from him while he sleeps. Let him know that if he does have a bad dream, he can come to you even if it’s the middle of the night, and you’ll help him to put the scary dream in the box so he’ll be able to go back to sleep.
When I’m writing journal prompts and designing journal pages, I often think in terms of balance — the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the successes and the challenges. They are the realities of life and I think it’s important to explore them all.
Then, after a whole lot of exploration, I sometimes need a bit of a nudge back to the positive. With that in mind and on a whim (which is mostly how I operate around here), I cooked up a mini-journal devoted entirely to the good stuff, and I made a copy for you, too.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health diagnosis in kids; ten to twenty percent of all children will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder before the age of 18. But it’s hard for parents to figure out when worry is part of typical child development and when it’s a concern.
It’s called exposure therapy and works like this: Instead of avoiding anxiety-producing situations—performing at a recital, giving a report in front of the class, talking to adults—children are taught to manage anxiety.
Ten-year-old Terry came in for a session because she was worried about an upcoming slumber party. She wanted to attend but was afraid to. “What if I don’t know what to say?” she asked. “What if I get homesick and have to go home? I’d die of embarrassment.”
In my art therapy group today I brought in small match boxes – easy to carry in your pocket. The idea is to have something to remind you of good self talk when your most troublesome emotion is bothering you. The outside of the box tells what bothers you. Inside are words and phrases you can say to yourself for comfort.
Anxiety affects more children and teens than any other psychiatric illness, but it’s also the most treatable emotional disorder. Some 25 percent of children and adolescents will suffer an anxiety disorder at several points in their lifetime, resulting in serious problems in their ability to function in school, with peers, and on a general day-to-day basis. A renowned researcher and clinician who has developed groundbreaking, proven coping strategies illuminates a new path to fear-free living for families.
Ages: 6-12. As players try to capture the Worry Monsters, they learn important steps for dealing with persistent worry – identifying feelings, self-calming, making positive self-statements, changing negative thoughts, planning, coping with difficult feelings, and self-monitoring. As they play, children will learn important skills to help them worry less. Includes a reproducible assessment form to be filled out by parents or teachers. For 2-4 players.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach frequently used to treat childhood anxiety. New research suggests that when CBT is successful in reducing the childhood anxiety, the technique also conveys considerable benefit years after the treatment.
The process of creating patterned drawings by combining repetitive marks, circles, lines and forms to create small pieces of art is a great way to clear your mind, and let yourself become more focused and relaxed. It’s also an approachable and easy to learn art form that anyone can try, regardless of skill level. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and it’s a great way to let go and enjoy the emotional benefits that art can bring.
“Anxiety is just such a normal part of life; everyone experiences it,” Denise told us. “It’s the most commonly known health issue there is. More than anything, we want [our kids] to know that everyone experiences it — we need to teach our kids that it’s normal.”
“Violet’s Cloudy Day.” is a great resource for kids dealing with worry and anxiety because of its content and as a conversation starter to discuss these issues with the child or children. Parents, teaches, therapists can use this beautifully illustrated book to help anxious children under their care. Most children will be able to relate with Violet, the main character, who is upset on her first day of school and who is a child who has moved a few times and must make new friends each time. Her worries keep poofing into the air as ‘worry clouds’ that follow her around, making her feel stressed, alone and small. She must learn to use kind self talk and ‘helpful’ thoughts to make them go away and grow big again.
Pebble meditation is a groundbreaking and completely unique technique to introduce children to the calming practice of meditation. Developed by Zen master, best selling author, and peace Nobel Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh A Handful of Quiet contains complete instructions for pebble meditation designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that touches on their interconnection with nature. Whether practiced alone or with the whole family, pebble meditation can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and can help children deal with difficult emotions.
It is hard enough to deal with anxiety, but throw parenting in the mix and it can be a real challenge! Parenting in and of itself can be anxiety producing, but what if you already have anxiety issues? It is tricky to know how to deal with anxiety when you become a parent.
Be the Boss of Your Stress speaks to kids ages 8 and up with this message: When your body, mind, and spirit are balanced—working together—they help you stay healthy and positive, even when you have stress. Stress is your body’s reaction to things that worry you or make you feel unsure. When you are upset or anxious about something, your body produces energy boosting chemicals that may cause a rapid heartbeat, tense muscles, sweaty hands, poor digestion, and the inability to think clearly. When you start to have stress problems, talk to someone you love and trust, stay positive, have a laugh, stay active, stick with daily routines, and take care of yourself. You can take care of yourself with these body boss skills:
Whether your child is an infant, toddler, or older, they all struggle with venturing into the unknown. All kids go through phase of needing a little extra help and a little more love to carry them through changes in their lives and anxieties they face. My daughter used to be the social butterfly and now she seems to be a little more reserved and unsure as she clings to her toddler anxieties. In the past several months, we have found ways to help coach her through anxieties and help her cope with uneasy emotions that she may feel.
(ages 4 – 9) Worries and fears have a way of getting bigger and bigger when we don’t talk about them. For children, with their big imaginations and difficulty understanding real vs. unreal, this can begin to feel huge and insurmountable.
This book illustrates this well, and also shows children how problems can begin to feel more manageable when talked about and shared with parents and other trusted adults who can help.
In this groundbreaking parenting book, my co-author, Dr. Lynne Kenney, and I “de-jargon-ize” what neuroscience tells us works best to raise healthy, happy children who want to behave. Then we serve it up in a way that lets you start using new ideas and strategies with your children right away! You can pick this book up and start applying this new approach in mere minutes!
When we can’t relax because of anxiety, we can turn to a simple, repetitive activity that occupies the mind and distracts it from anxious thoughts. It’s important to achieve relaxation, not through sitting still, but through doing something mundane yet out of our routine. Doing something that doesn’t require much though, for example, coloring a mandala or other coloring page, distracts the anxious brain enough to soothe and calm it while allowing for an activity to occupy thoughts, steering them to the activity rather than to worries and fears.
As a therapist specializing in play therapy, I work with children with many types of presenting problems. One common concern is anxiety. Here are three techniques for therapists or parents to help children manage their anxiety. (I’m sure you are aware of this, but I just want to note that parents should not try to take the place of a therapist. If your child has more than the typical anxiety or has gone through a difficult experience, consult with your doctor or a therapist.) By Heather Gilmore, LLMSW
From thunderstorms to the state of playground politics, give kiddos a respite from all that ails them with these plush worry eaters. Little ones can write down their worries, then “feed” them to the helpful monster. The mouth zips shut so anxieties about the dark or homework can’t get out, letting these lovable dolls hold onto worries so you little ones don’t have to.
During today’s session, I wanted students to see that others share similar feelings of worry, stress, and anxiety during tests. I also want students to identify with how their body and brain show stress and worry, so they can recognize this is happening and start using strategies. Students did an activity with drawing and writing to show what their worry looks like. While working on this, students talked to each other and shared with the group if they wanted.
GoZen! offers an innovative, simple way for kids to learn how to understand and control their worry. With our animation-based approach, kids come to understand their anxiety in a new way and have fun doing it. Best of all, we use research-based skills and techniques to help them become confident, happy and secure.
These six power cards have strategies children can use to combat anxiety just like “Worry Ninjas.” Several of the cards reinforce concepts from Dawn Huebner’s book, “What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Anxiety.”
By Lawrence J. Cohen http://ideas.time.com/2013/09/26/the-drama-of-the-anxious-child/
When I was first studying psychology, thirty years ago, I learned that about 10-20% of children are born with a temperament that is highly reactive to anything new and unfamiliar. Some of these children go on in life to be anxious, timid, or shy (or, as we shy people like to say, “slow to warm up.”) A much smaller number of children, about 1-5%, were diagnosed at that time with a full-fledged anxiety disorder.
Nowadays, there are still 10-20% with that reactive temperament, but the number of children with a diagnosable anxiety disorder has skyrocketed, up to 25% according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A report from the National Institutes of Health adds, “There is persuasive evidence from a range of studies that anxiety disorders are the most frequent mental disorders in children and adolescents….” These new numbers must be viewed skeptically, of course, because of the trend towards looser and broader definitions of mental illness.
Annika always panics. She panics when her coat zip gets stuck on the way to a party. She panics when she can’t find her favourite toy at bedtime. Her mum, dad and brother try to help her learn how to stay calm and think her way through a problem.
I print a labyrinth and start by writing a word in the center that I want to focus on and begin journaling, not from the center but at the opening along the outer edge. I turn the page as I write to follow the path. This turning like walking the labyrinth has the same effect, it pulls me out of my “thought ruts.”
In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling book Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson demystify the meltdowns and aggravation, explaining the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids can seem-and feel-so out of control. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth. Raise calmer, happier children using twelve key strategies, including…
One of the movie’s core messages is that ALL of our emotions are important and necessary. One emotion cannot exist to the exclusion of the others and differing emotions often co-exist within one life experience.
Our emotional system is designed to protect us and send us messages about the world around us. It indicates how things are going in our life.
As parents, we focus much of our time and attention on helping our children stay safe, healthy, successful and happy. It’s difficult to imagine such good intentions leading to anything other than good outcomes.
Unfortunately, kids catch on to more than our good intentions. They start to realize that there are reasons to worry, things to fear, and times to panic. Without concrete strategies in place, these fears and worries can grow into something we never intended. Instead of just being “cautious” on the monkey bars, your child avoids them; instead of giving it their “best shot,” they give up before making a mistake.
A new kind of a Book app that’s all about emotions because,
“Hey it’s okay, we all have feelings!”
Have you ever had a worry? If so, this beautiful interactive storybook is for you. Based on the award-winning book, Don’t Feed The WorryBug, by author/illustrator Andi Green, this interactive app tells the story of an adorable little monster named Wince. Wince worries so much The WorryBug appears! And we all know the more you worry, the bigger The WorryBug can become! Join Wince on his inspirational journey of self awareness.
Guaranteed to inspire anyone who has had a worry no matter how old they are.
Mindfulness—the quality of attention that combines full awareness with acceptance of each moment, just as it is—is gaining broad acceptance among mental health professionals as an adjunct to treatment. This little book is a very appealing introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. The book contains eleven practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Included with purchase is an audio CD with guided meditations, voiced by Myla Kabat-Zinn, who along with her husband, Jon Kabat-Zinn, popularized mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as a therapeutic approach.
Teaching your child how to fight anxiety can start at a very young age. I have worked with children as young as two and three that were able to learn skills on how to face their fears. So, roll up your sleeves and start arming your child with skills to overcome their anxiety. It is never too early to turn your little one into a superhero!
Anxiety is a normal response to something dangerous or stressful. It becomes a problem when it shows up at unexpected times and takes a particularly firm hold. When anxiety is in full swing, it feels awful. Awful enough that anticipation of the feeling is enough in itself to cause anxiety.
The idea of drawing your emotions as characters is similar to another intervention that I have shared about in the past in which children externalize and draw a problem such as anger, OCD, or anxiety. Be careful in connecting these two ideas with kids so that they don’t get the idea that some emotions are bad and some are good. With some clients, we have talked about how a feeling like worry/fear is good to protect us, but becomes a problem when it takes over too much.
In Inside Out, different emotions take their turns at the control panel in Riley’s brain. Her thoughts, words and behaviors are influenced by which emotion is in charge.
Teaching your child to identify which emotion is at their control panel, taking into consideration, that there may be more than one, will help them to develop self-awareness, self-regulation skills and self-compassion.
If you’re still struggling to determine whether your child is intense or just ill-behaved like everyone seems to think, take a few minutes to look through these characteristics. Do you see your child described? You’re probably dealing with an emotionally intense kiddo that just needs a different parenting approach. Let’s problem solve together.
This hands on activity helps kids identify both negative and positive self-talk. It involves creating a shield the child uses to protect themselves against negative self-talk. It also includes instructions on how to use this in a playful manner.
A outline of a shield
32 positive self-statements
16 negative self-statements
After wreaking havoc on the planets of its own galaxy, a hungry monster sets off in its spaceship for a pretty blue planet called Earth. A little boy called Tommy Brown, who is particularly scared of monsters, is singled out for a visit…
Interpersonal rejection sensitivity is a hyper-alertness to the social reactions of others. When someone has rejection sensitivity, they anxiously expect and rapidly perceive and overreact to rejection. Because of their fears and expectations, individuals with rejection sensitivity may misinterpret and distort the actions of others. They then react with hurt and anger. The other person is confused, doesn’t understand, or sees the rejection sensitive person as too high maintenance.
Individuals who are rejection sensitive often see rejection by others as a statement that they are unacceptable as people. They see rejection as being a judgment about their worth as a person. Unfortunately, having rejection sensitivity can mean a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are expecting rejection it is difficult to be satisfied with or feel safe in relationships, as you will see rejection frequently and often even when it isn’t intended. When you aren’t feeling rejected, you are likely to be expecting it.
Leo is a perfectionist and, such, he is afraid of failure to the point of complete immobilization. He will assess a new situation, determine his risk for failure, and refuse to participate if he doesn’t think he can immediatelydo it well. We have been dealing with Leo’s perfectionism for years now and I have a feeling it is something we will continue to work on as the years progress. So, what has helped? By Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
My first attempt at Jedi training was based on an unsophisticated understanding of the Force. With a different perspective and years of mindfulness practice, I feel confident in passing on some more effective Jedi lessons to our children. If you have an anxious child (and especially if they love Star Wars), try these techniques.
Natural environments are calming for many people, so using a guided imagery script describing a forest is a good idea. The protected feeling of being underneath a canopy of trees may give you a peaceful feeling. The participant can feel in control of what happens in the forest.
Jessica Lahey, educator, mom and author of The Gift of Failure, had a parenting epiphany: After a decade in front of the classroom and an equal number of years as a mother, she came to see that, with the best will in the world and only good intentions, we parents have taught a generation of kids to fear and avoid failure. By doing this, Lahey explains, we have blocked their path to success.
Test anxiety is a problem every teacher faces. Since we can’t ban the test, we have to find a way to ease the stress. I love to read the book, Testing Miss Malrkey by Keven O’ Malley. After reading the book I like to talk to the students about their testing fears. You wouldn’t believe some of the misconceptions that kids have. Some think they will be retained if they don’t perform well on this one test.
Positive reinforcement is a better option than scare tactics in my opinion. I created an acronym and reward system for testing week. It’s called Sweet Success. We practice going through each of the steps prior to the big day. The steps are as follows: http://classroommagic.blogspot.com/2012/03/easing-test-anxiety.html
I wish I could go back in time and teach the younger version of myself how to cope, but of course, that’s not possible. What is possible is to try to reach as many kids and parents as possible with these coping skills. What is possible is to teach kids how to go beyond just surviving to really finding meaning, purpose and happiness in their lives. To this end, I created an anxiety relief program for kids called GoZen. Here are 9 ideas straight from GoZen that parents of anxious children can try right away:
Renee JainChief Storyteller at GoZen.com, Anxiety Relief Programs for Kids
This post is part of the Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors series hosted by Lemon Lime Adventures. In honor of Sensory Processing Awareness month, bloggers are sharing their favorite tips that can help ALL children. Be sure to hop over to read all of this month’s awesome sensory-related posts!
Not everyone deals with anxiety and stress in the same way. For some children it can feel overwhelming and paralyzing. Lessons lose themselves in the chaos of the brain and everything feels frozen. Inspired by some fun buttons I received (from London), the idea behind this tool is to create a little pouch of reminders to be used during high stress time. Add your own wisdom to the collection, keep them close during tests or use them with other anxiety management techniques.
Panic Attacks Are Common When I first became certified as a Hypnotherapist in 1990, I was surprised by the number of people who came to me with anxiety and panic attacks. Many people experience panic attacks frequently and live their lives avoiding situations that frighten them, in many cases irrationally. This simple technique for ending a panic attack was part of my hypnotherapy training and has been used successfully by many of my clients since then. Using the four easy steps below, you can learn to end a panic attack in as little as three minutes.
This pensive and peaceful book encourages children to slow down and become deliberate with their day-to-day actions and thoughts. With gentle rhythms and soothing imagery, kids may be guided toward a quiet self-awareness and mindfulness.
So here is where a natural mood shift from yoga can help. Breathing and stretching through a simple and quick yoga routine can increase blood flow, improve circulation, and bring oxygen to the whole body. Giving yourself and your family even three minutes to twist, bend, and breathe can go a long way to a morning that flows.
One day, one of the most perfectionist perfectionists of the bunch was struggling with a word problem. He raised his hand to wave me over, then said “I don’t understand,” but looked up at me, grinned, and said, “Yet.”
Prompt children to begin a discussion about anxiety and fear using the My Fears anxiety worksheet. This worksheet will give your clients an opportunity to discuss the feelings of fear and anxiety, why they are important, and how they can be harmful.
Children are asked to list their fears, describe their thoughts about the anxiety, identify where in their body they sense the feeling, and finally to create a plan for dealing with fear in the future. The goal of this worksheet is to begin introducing children to the concept that thoughts and feelings are linked, and to increase awareness of their emotions by asking them to identify how their body responds to anxiety.
It’’s easy to dismiss the emotional, psychological, and physical effects of anxiety in children as being ”all in their heads” — but doing so can have a profoundly negative impact on a child’’s development: socially, academically, and emotionally.
After her house losing power causes Penelope to oversleep, the mishaps in this young perfectionist’s day align to brew the perfect storm. Can she survive an imperfect day and learn to let go of some of her perfectionism in the process?
Growing up can be stressful for any teenager, but it is considerably harder for the many adolescents who develop an anxiety disorder. This book is an essential guide for parents, teachers, or other adults involved with teenagers who may e affected by these disorders. By bringing together two strands of expertise–that of mental health professionals and of parents who have lived through the experience of their own teenager’s mental illness
There are many great ways to provide calming input through the tactile system. One simple tool that is easily used as a calming sensory break during the day is a tactile bin. Fill a shoebox-sized plastic container with sand, dry rice, or dry beans and let kids run their hands through it.
Fear, worry, stomach pains, self-doubt—these are classic symptoms of anxiety in children. Using kid-friendly concepts and real-life examples, this reassuring guide helps adults and children understand the powerful ways in which anxiety works and how to overcome its negative effects.
A new method devised by a Drexel University professor to diagnose children on the spectrum for anxiety symptoms — which tend to be masked by symptoms of autism — was proven effective in a study published today.
“Anxiety is considered an internalizing symptom, in that it is mostly felt by the person inside their bodies and minds and is not always obvious to others,” said Connor Kerns, PhD, an assistant research professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute of Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. “For example, a child may avoid a social situation because they are not socially motivated — a symptom of autism spectrum disorder — or because they are afraid of being socially rejected — a symptom of anxiety.”
– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2016/December/Kerns%20ASD%20ASA/#sthash.MFazBjQl.dpuf
Do your kids have a hard time warming up to people? Are they slow to make friends? Are they silent at family gatherings? When does shyness turn into social anxiety in children? It can be a challenge to tell what the signs of social anxiety are and what is just shyness?
There is actually a song created specifically for that purpose, and its efficacy is backed by science. United Kingdom-based band Marconi Union composed their song “Weightless” to help treat the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety is a condition that affects 40 million adults living in the U.S. That’s 18 percent of the population.
The musical trio collaborated with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines that help slow a listener’s heart rate, reports Inc. The song also helps to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol, a stress hormone.
And when neuroscientists from Mindlab International put the song to the test, it passed with flying colors.
Let’s face it, being a child is not always easy. Children around the world face real changes, stressful life events, and experience trauma every day. Children are resilient there’s no doubt about that. They often still need skills to help them cope with troubles in their lives, however. The more skills a child has in his or her tool chest, the stronger they will be to face life’s challenges and grow from them.
My guest today is Kirsten Goffena who is a LPC (licensed professional counselor), RPT (registered play therapist), NCC (national certified counselor) and level 2 EMDR practitioner. She is the owner of Pathfinders Counseling LLC and located in Fort Collins, Colorado.
A book for kids about anxiety. Kids can do amazing things with the right information. Understanding why anxiety feels the way it does, and where the physical symptoms come from, is a powerful step in turning anxiety around. Anxiety explained, kids empowered! For ages 5 and up.
Emotional Intelligence (EI): Your ability to manage and understand emotions and relationships, your own as well as others’. Research has shown that Emotional Intelligence is more vital to life success and satisfaction than general intelligence. This makes EI a very…