Children are feeling anxiety because of school and family pressures, life changes, and more. Clinical Therapist Michele Kambolis, has written a handbook called Generation Stressed that details the different forms of anxiety in children, and it contains a whole section of play-based tools to help children overcome their anxiety.
Fact: Children worry most frequently about school, health, and personal harm. They worry most intensely about family, friends, and natural disasters.
As parents, we do our best to be there for our kids, but sometimes we could use some outside advice from a specialist. We get caught up in our lives, family schedules, etc and may miss signs of stress in our kids - or we may downplay how stressed they really are. Perhaps we use a parenting coping style that we think is working, but it may not be in the best interest of our kids.
Parental coping styles:
"When our own anxiety causes us to lose our connection with our higher parenting purpose we become focused on our own ego-driven needs, and it can change our parenting styles more than we may realize."
"Parents who believe the tough-love approach is the right way to go tend to see anxiety as a weakness and struggle with their own feelings of vulnerability. They believe that children who grow a thick skin are stronger and more resilient to life's pitfalls. While corporals may initially try to be positive in the face of their children's anxiety, frustration and anger and a fear that their kids are missing out on key life events can cause them to respond harshly."
"Parents who feel like they're walking on thin ice constantly monitor their children for signs that they're getting treacherously close to their stress threshold. Overprotectors carefully try to avoid saying the wrong thing and will do whatever it takes to prevent their children from facing anxiety. Overprotectors tend to constantly comfort their kids by telling them that "Things will be okay".... Without taking the time to fully acknowledge how hard things are, listen to their kids and challenge them, overly protective parents can leave their children feeling disconnected, invalidated and unable to develop their own solutions."
The Permissive Parent:
"Permissive parents are super easygoing. They believe the best way to manage children's anxiety is to avoid stress, disagreements and conflict of any kind. The lack of parenting guidance that permissiveness creates, fractures the parent-child attachment and holds kids back from developing the self-confidence that naturally unfolds in the hierarchy of the parent-child relationship."
Michele says: "...I wish we could have a little more compassion for each other and realize that, misguided or not, we all do the best we can. Innately we all have the ability to first tune into ourselves and then to the needs of our children."
"When kids feel connected to the adults who care for them, they derive their sense of well-being and self-worth from growing, caring, helping, and sharing with and for other people. They develop an intrinsic locus of power and they're far less likely to be burdened by stress and anxiety."
Fact: Girls are twice as likely as boys to have an anxiety disorder in childhood, and this gender difference only increases with age.
Michele talks about Generation Stressed and children:
Generation Stressed covers all of the different Thinking Traps that children can get stuck on, and it is full of cognitive behaviour therapy activities.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT):
"This evidence-based therapy deals with the interrelatedness of our thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and is built on the premise that by changing one, we can transform the other." "CBT teaches children to challenge anxious thoughts rather than to accept them as truth."
"The play-based cognitive behavior therapy tools...can bring lasting relief to kids who learn and master them." "Whether...activities are used one on one, in groups or with the entire family, they are designed to bring children and adults together. ...ultimately the goal is to be able to call on them independently to prevent anxiety, treat symptoms as they arise and increase resilience and overall happiness."
Fact: CBT treatment for children with diagnosable anxiety is effective in 85% of cases. The benefits are maintained over time.
Michele on Breakfast Television talking about back to school stress - some CBT activities shown:
I found the book to be optimistic and uplifting - it's full of strategies to help children work through their anxieties, and ways to speak with them so they can replace their negative thoughts with healthy ones. I highly recommend this book to parents and caregivers if they have any concerns about their children. I think that it's full of great supportive information that is empowering to children and those who care for them. We all need to get out of our Thinking Traps.
If you are interested in picking up a copy of Generation Stressed then check out Michele Kambolis' site: michelekambolis.com.
ChiKids is Michele Kambolis' program for children that uses CBT:
"CHIKids delivers an extraordinary curriculum designed to both boost emotional resilience and improve overall social-emotional development."
Take a look at the ChiKids site for details: thechikids.com
I received a copy of Generation Stressed for my review. All opinions expressed and reviews are my own.