helping children to manage anxiety
Fear-Less Triple P was developed to help anxious children and· their parents. Everyone experiences anxiety, stress and worry from time to time. They are a normal part of everyday living. However, they are also among the most common complaints of adults, adolescents and children, and they can have serious consequences.
High levels of anxiety and stress often result in significant distress and health problems (e.g. ulcers, skin irritations and headaches). In addition, anxiety and stress can interfere with school or work performance, as well as interpersonal relationships. Anxiety places extra strain on a family’s ability to function effectively, as well as on children’s relationships with their parents and their siblings. Significant anxiety in childhood is usually associated with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. In the long term, it is also often associated with other psychological problems, such as depression and substance use.
Most likely, you are reading this workbook because of one of your children in particular, however, childhood anxiety is never just about one child – the anxiety affects everyone in the family. And although it is a life skill we all need, children often aren’t taught how to manage anxiety effectively.
The good news is that there are many ways in which you can help all of your children learn to manage their anxiety effectively, not just the child about whom you are most concerned. It is our experience that Fear-Less Triple P helps entire families learn to manage their anxiety more constructively.
This program has four main goals.
- To help you provide your children with the best possible model of anxiety management. You’ll be learning to lead by example. This approach is based on these simple assumptions:
- Everybody experiences stress and anxiety at times.
- Anxiety and stress are normal. The goal is to manage anxiety and stress more effectively, not eliminate them all together.
- Learning how to manage stress and anxiety more effectively is a positive thing, even if you are not overly concerned about the impact of anxiety on your life.
- Parents serve as role models for their children, whether we like it or not. This applies to everything we do and say around our children
- To help you teach your children to become more resilient. In particular, to learn how to express and manage difficult emotions.
- To together create a plan for helping your children manage their anxiety effectively by becoming flexible thinkers, and gradually facing up to their fears.
- To focus on how you respond to your children’s anxiety. We’ll go through the strategies that are working well for you, the responses that aren’t working so well, and we’ll come up with some alternatives for you to think about trying.
In this program, you will be learning how to manage your own anxiety and stress even more effectively than you already do, so that you are providing all your children with a positive model of anxiety management. You will also be developing a toolbox of strategies for helping your children manage their anxiety more constructively.
Finally, you will hopefully experience a sense that your concerns regarding the anxiety in your family have been recognized and validated. All too often, the parents of anxious children tell us that they receive little or no support or understanding from extended family and friends when it comes to the anxiety in their family. People outside the immediate family often don’t know the impact a child’s anxiety can have – not only on the child, but on every family member, and every relationship within the family. In our experience, parenting a child with a significant anxiety problem is every bit as difficult as parenting a non-compliant, oppositional child. Sometimes, just the knowledge that you are not over-reacting, but instead are facing a real and ongoing challenge as a parent, is helpful in itself.