Anxiety can be a scary character for kids and seriously uncool. It could look like the monster under the bed or things hiding in the dark. Sometimes anxiety is sneaky and it pops up in not so scary places, like a party or in the classroom. When our children talk about anxiety they may say “I feel sick in the tummy”, “I’m so angry” or “I don’t wanna!”. There could be lots of tears for no apparent reason, or just one more trip to the toilet before we go. If this sounds familiar, you and your child might have met this mysterious character and it can be difficult to stay cool when it shows up.
As parents it’s natural to want to see our children reach their full potential and protect them from all the scary characters in life. Yet at the same time, watching our children struggle with worry and fear, can leave us feeling helpless, stuck and anxious too. Right now, anxiety is a common concern for children and adults alike, affecting about 20% of us during our lifetime. On the outside, anxious children can appear to be very quiet and well behaved, or their behaviour can be disruptive and loud. On the inside anxiety can feel like nervous energy buzzing through our veins or like a tightly coiled spring – ready for the tension to be released at any moment. When left untreated anxiety can lead to missed opportunities in school, get in the way of careers and relationships. When treated, anxiety can find it’s place among other emotions, so that we can connect and enjoy the world around us.
So how do we treat anxiety? Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the gold standard for treatment of anxiety, but when it comes to children, research shows that parent involvement as part of a CBT program, can improve results and provide greater opportunity for long-term change. The Cool Kids program is run by accredited Cool Kids providers, offering children and their parents a group-based CBT program that can teach our children to recognise this anxiety character and respond in more positive ways.
Something special about the Cool Kids program is that it offers a group-based approach to learning. While the children’s group introduces 8-12 year olds to new strategies in managing the symptoms of anxiety, the parents group learn how they can support their children in practicing their new strategies. The sound of being in a group may be a little overwhelming, but becoming a member of a group offers you and your child a level of support that only a shared experience can offer. Group-based therapies provide you and your child with a shared support network, a sounding board for troubleshooting, a team to celebrate a win, a safe place to practice social skills and being connected to people who also know the shady anxiety character.
The Cool Kids program can even help you manage your own worries, through learning about anxiety, facing fears and problem solving when the scary character visits unexpectedly. When Cool Kids and their parents learn new strategies to practice in day-to-day activities, they become a team, working to recognise and manage those anxious thoughts and feelings, building a safe place for families to grow and thrive together. If this program sounds like it will meet your needs, you’re welcome to contact The Hummingbird Centre for more information. The Cook Kids program commences on Thursdays from May 2022.