Does your child have worries or fears that are taking the fun out of being a kid? Fears about school, joining activities, and worries about all kinds of things can really take a toll on children and their parents. Worry can make it hard to relax and have fun.
The STG Childhood Anxiety Program includes effective Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT through the Cool Kids program, developed at Macquarie University) with skills designed to support parenting of anxious childhood emotions (SPACE, developed at Yale University). This program is available in La Ronge in Northern Saskatchewan and throughout the province by teletherapy.
Mindfulness strategies are not new practices, but we are making them more accessible to people with difficulty sustaining attention.” Dr. Lidia Zylowska
There are several types of anxiety experienced by children and teenagers. There is no one answer to what signs or symptoms indicate that a child is experiencing anxiety. Some children find it challenging to be away from their parents, are extremely shy, or worry about others’ thoughts. Other children avoid social and school activities or worry a lot about everyday matters and the future.
Many children experience more than one type of anxiety. However, some general indications can help parents identify anxiety in children. Some common signs and symptoms of childhood anxiety include difficulty sleeping, being overly alert and hypervigilant, trouble concentrating, feeling out of control, excessive worrying, feelings of dread or panic, difficulty making friends or fitting in with others, self-consciousness, and physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches. Not all children who experience these symptoms will have an anxiety disorder; these may be classic signs and symptoms of stress or worry.
Anxiety is a normal emotion all of us deal with throughout life. However, research has demonstrated that when parents see avoidance behaviours and extreme distress in their children at least 2 times per week, we no longer can talk about normal anxiety.
When your child’s everyday happy living is impacted by stress, avoidance, and difficult emotions, perhaps it is time to start to think about helping you and your family manage the childhood anxiety. Even though many children diagnosed with anxiety disorders will grow out of them, they require two essential components: supportive environments that limit anxiety accommodations and get appropriate professional treatment.
One of the most common questions people with anxiety ask each other is “What works for you/me doesn’t work for my child.” This is because anxiety is a highly individualized disorder and what works for one child may not work for another. Anxiety in children can often be caused by different factors than anxiety in adults, so there is no one answer when it comes to solving the problem. Every child is different and will experience anxiety in different ways. It’s important to find out what makes your child feel comfortable and safe and to do whatever you can to support them. Talk openly about your concerns and feelings with your child. Let them know that you’re concerned about their well-being and that you want to help them feel better.
The best way to treat childhood anxiety is to start with the basics. Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise. These simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your child’s anxiety levels. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to help your child’s anxiety, there are a number of different treatment options available.
One of the most researched therapeutic approaches to Childhood Anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the idea that how we think affect how we feel and act. By changing our thinking pattern or behaviour, we can change our thoughts, feelings and therefore everything else around us.
CBT helps children identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviours that are contributing to their anxiety. CBT typically involves weekly sessions with a therapist, during which kids learn relaxation and coping skills.
When kids are feeling anxious, they’re often given an option to avoid or not experience the things that make them feel that way. This gives them some sense of relief at first because it means not experiencing a lot of negative emotions that are often related to fears. But by avoiding their fears, children can only grow to value those fears less and less without actually touching on why they exist in the first place. If a child wishes to overcome their fears rather than live in constant anxiety, CBT can be really useful when it comes down to trying to soothe and help alleviate the stress of having certain anxieties they may have while helping them understand just how powerful these emotions are perceived from the root level.
One of the most important aspects of CBT is helping kids understand that their anxiety is manageable and doesn’t have to control their lives. With the help of CBT, many children are able to overcome their anxiety and live happy, healthy lives.
The STG Anxiety Reduction Program for kids is is a skills-based program that teaches children (including teenagers) and their parents how to better manage anxiety. The program was designed for kids between 7 and 17 years. A short intake assessment (online) determines if your child is a good candidate for this program.
Each session of the program involves both the parents and the child, either together or separate. The program is usually carried out over 10 sessions. The program requires families to practice the skills learned at home as much as possible.
The following topics are covered in the Cool Kids Anxiety Reduction. Depending on the needs of a child, some topics might require more time to ensure your child is making progress as expected:
Children attending CBT programs such as Cool Kids Anxiety Reduction Program can experience the following benefits. Since each child is different, the benefits do differ per child, depending on their childhood anxiety symptoms.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a highly effective treatment for childhood anxiety. It is safe, and it helps children learn how to cope with their fears in a healthy way. The STG Anxiety Program is a privately run program that is available on a fee basis. Parents who are interested in accessing support for their child start with booking an initial meeting online. An STG Health Services Professional will administer a short anxiety assessment and then rate your child’s anxiety level based on your responses. When your child seems to be a good fit for the program, you are then invited to do a full intake session.
Dr. Eli Lebowitz of Yale University presents what SPACE Treatment is all about in this video (20 minutes). Even though the video is long, I recommend taking the time to watch it. You will gain essential information about childhood anxiety.
SPACE Treatment is now available in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Please get in touch to look at possibilities for incorporating SPACE for your family. Chris de Feijter is a Yale-trained SPACE Treatment provider for Anxiety, Picky Eating, and Failure to Launch.
I strongly believe that no one should be pressured to decide whether or not they want to work with a therapist before meeting them. I will see you (and your child) at no charge to make sure we are a good fit for each other. Every therapist works in their own unique way so I want you to be certain you feel comfortable with the way I work. The initial meeting is not a therapy session; it’s designed to be low-key and low-pressure with no “hard sell” at the end.