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How to teach a child to cope with normal nervousness/anxiety


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#1 FearsomeFeralFreak

Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:38 AM

I just had a phone call telling me my child bailed just before her swimming race today, bursting into tears and refusing to do it (she is 11).
In the last year she has refused to continue, and at times run away from: a dance competition, a public speaking comp, a debate, speech day at school and almost run away from a school play, tournament of the minds comp, refused to compete in the athletics carnival.
Anything that makes her feel nervous or is in anyway challenging, she just folds.
I’m not keen on seeing a psychologist- every psychologist I’ve seen has provided very little for a lot of money (even with the subsidised visits I’ve still been $150 out each appointment. I just can’t afford to throw money away right now- my younger son was seeing a psych as little as 1 month ago)

Can anyone suggest any practical tips to help her? Or let me know if their kid was like this? - and did they grow out of it?
I was thinking of drama classes or public speaking classes- both she has said no to but she will say no to anything new that takes her out of her comfort zone.

#2 nup

Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:50 AM

In NSW your local community health Centre should have a child psychologist available. Otherwise school counsellors can help. I have found play therapy and sand therapy to be really helpful in building confidence.

The Highly Sensitive child,
The Whole Brain Child and
The Strength Switch
For you if you're interested in reading

For her
The big bag of worries
Have you filled your bucket
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

And loads of physical activity. Run, swim, jump, climb and ride bikes, learning new physical skills.

#3 seayork2002

Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:50 AM

My son is not like totally (will do some things listed but not others) this but DH was and still is, I was like this at school but having a PT job when I was 16 fixed it for me, I don't think in my case the expression 'grew out of it' is correct i just grew more confidence as I was at work

Mind you I was quite happy not doing the things I didn't want to do, so I did not want to give a speech in class, for example, so chose not to do it.

If I wanted to do these things and couldn't then my parents would have helped me, but again for me it was a choice for me, I never saw a benefit out of doing them so until I chose to myself then nothing my parents could have done would have made a difference

Does she actually want to compete, give a speech etc. ?

As an adult there are things I would still rather not do but just get on and do it rather than worry about it

#4 Jenflea

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:00 PM

Can she see the school psychologist if there is one?

#5 MissHLH

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:01 PM

I think activities that are just a little bit anxiety inducing are a good idea.  The idea is to feel anxious, do the task, and then realise that even if you feel anxious you can still succeed.  Not so far out of her comfort zone that she will fail, as this just reinforces the idea that she can't do something.  Baby steps.
If she did the school play, then maybe drama classes are one area where she could feel anxious but still succeed, so that might be a good option.

You could also talk about how anxiety is a good thing (obviously too much is bad, but a little bit is good), because it makes us want to try harder and shows we want to do well.

#6 FearsomeFeralFreak

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:04 PM

View Postseayork2002, on 11 February 2019 - 11:50 AM, said:

My son is not like totally (will do some things listed but not others) this but DH was and still is, I was like this at school but having a PT job when I was 16 fixed it for me, I don't think in my case the expression 'grew out of it' is correct i just grew more confidence as I was at work

Mind you I was quite happy not doing the things I didn't want to do, so I did not want to give a speech in class, for example, so chose not to do it.

If I wanted to do these things and couldn't then my parents would have helped me, but again for me it was a choice for me, I never saw a benefit out of doing them so until I chose to myself then nothing my parents could have done would have made a difference

Does she actually want to compete, give a speech etc. ?

As an adult there are things I would still rather not do but just get on and do it rather than worry about it

Yes, she wants to do these things. If she doesn't want to do things (like almost any sport) she just doesn't. With the things like speeches/debates she works on them for hours, and does a fabulous job! She wants to do well so badly - and then panics when its time to actually perform. I've not witnessed most of it except the drama comp when she tried to pull out 5 minutes before she was due on. Luckily I was there and told her "don't you dare ruin this for your team." She did it, was nervous but fine. They came second in the region! She was so proud!
With the dance comp I was there and made her go and try again (after she ran away) - again she was fine. Even got a high score.
So she knows when she does these things she is ok. But if no one is there to stop her running away and not letting her bail out - then the 'flight' of fight or flight kicks in.

#7 FearsomeFeralFreak

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:08 PM

View PostJenflea, on 11 February 2019 - 12:00 PM, said:

Can she see the school psychologist if there is one?
My son, who has other, more serious issues, has been waiting to see the school psych for over 8 months. We only have the psych 1.5 days a week and she is run off her feet. I've given up. Hence why we paid to see one.
Plus they are hardcore about kids only seeing her if it is having a big effect on their schooling. They wouldn't count bailing on these things as a big deal. (I know this from discussions with her teacher last year)

#8 seayork2002

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:12 PM

View PostFearsomeFeralFreak, on 11 February 2019 - 12:04 PM, said:

Yes, she wants to do these things. If she doesn't want to do things (like almost any sport) she just doesn't. With the things like speeches/debates she works on them for hours, and does a fabulous job! She wants to do well so badly - and then panics when its time to actually perform. I've not witnessed most of it except the drama comp when she tried to pull out 5 minutes before she was due on. Luckily I was there and told her "don't you dare ruin this for your team." She did it, was nervous but fine. They came second in the region! She was so proud!
With the dance comp I was there and made her go and try again (after she ran away) - again she was fine. Even got a high score.
So she knows when she does these things she is ok. But if no one is there to stop her running away and not letting her bail out - then the 'flight' of fight or flight kicks in.

Could she have a friend stand with her? (for the speech part?)

#9 FearsomeFeralFreak

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:19 PM

View Postseayork2002, on 11 February 2019 - 12:12 PM, said:

Could she have a friend stand with her? (for the speech part?)
Not sure.
Plus I don't know if it would help.
Her best friend was with her for the drama comp - and I have no doubt she still would have let the whole team down on something they had been working towards for 6 weeks and bailed on them if I hadn't gotten really angry at her and said there was no way in hell she wasn't doing it!

#10 cardamom

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:29 PM

I haven't read all the replies - at work and short on time - so my apologies if this has already been suggested, but could you look at something like The Brave Program?

It's a free online program to help kids manage feelings of anxiety. There are two separate programs, one for the child and one for the parent, which can be completed independently or together. It's run by the University of Queensland - I've not used it myself but have heard good things from people who have.

http://braveonline.psy.uq.edu.au/

Have also heard good things about the book Hey Warrior - it's about childhood anxiety, though it may be a little young for your DD.

Good luck - anxiety is crippling, I struggled so much as a child but didn't realise what the problem was. Intervening then would have made such a difference to my life as an adult!

#11 JBH

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:32 PM

I like the detective thinking model. This presentation describes it for younger children, but is quite helpful.

http://www.cheri.com...eriversion2.pdf

I’ll see if I can find something else.

#12 JBH

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:33 PM

On a quick review, this looks good:

http://www.emmacleme...hildren-part-1/

#13 Octopodes

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:34 PM

Where are you located?

I know you're not keen on a psychologist, but I highly recommend the Quirky Kid Clinic if you are in Sydney or Wollongong. DS has done workshops on friendship building and managing his anxiety through them. It has helped a lot. Macquarie Uni also runs anxiety workshops (Cool Kids). They have an online course, which might be less costly.

https://www.mq.edu.a...n-and-teenagers

#14 Crombek

Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:56 PM

Cool kids is an outstanding anxiety program. She does need to understand that no one can fix this for her, and any successful treatment will require her to do some work that makes her feel uncomfortable. The key is a 3 pronged aporoach - education around anxiety & the body’s response to threat, teaching methods to self soothe when her anxiety alarm is triggered, and finally introducing increasingly anxiety provoking situations so she can practice practice practice. And rewards. Lots of rewards.

#15 CallMeFeral

Posted 11 February 2019 - 01:50 PM

"Helping your anxious child" by Ron Rapee - he's the guy who started the Cool Kids programs. If you can get onto one of those programs it would be cheaper than individual therapy.

Treatment will usually consist of gradual exposure incentivised by rewards, in a nutshell. Drama or public speaking classes would be great if she'll do them - or if she won't do them currently, something she can work towards later in exposure.

Although it's possible that people grow out of this stuff, there is a lot of evidence that it tends to linger and/or extend into other anxiety issues, so her getting educated on it and learning to deal with it early on is a good idea. The Cool Kids program has shown pretty good long term results.

#16 ipsee

Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:19 PM

Drama classes were recommended to us for anxiety about speaking, and seem helpful.

#17 jensta

Posted 12 February 2019 - 10:57 AM

Another vote for Cool kids program. Anxiety does need to be addressed, as it can be crippling.

#18 sunshine_days

Posted 12 February 2019 - 11:17 AM

I have a 12 year old girl and she went through this at about 10-11. Do you know if anything set her off? A comment, peer pressure?

My daughter had a virus with a lot of nausea for about 4 months and was worried about being sick at school (she never was) and this stopped her doing a lot of things at school and outside school , esp at school just "incase she was sick".

She ended up having a few session with the school counsellor/pshy and helped her work through it and coping mechanisms and now she has just year 7 with no worries. she is back to my confident girl.

Is there a school counsellor or someone she can just talk to at school?

#19 -Belinda-

Posted 12 February 2019 - 11:44 AM

Following as I have an overthinker then anxious DD10 and I don't know whether to nip in bud or hope she outgrows it. Thanks to PP  for the resources above.

I was going to.suggest girl guides or scouts, a high quality group will provide opportunities for challenge and building  self-confidence which wont be as obvious as drama/speaking so maybe less pressure.

Edited by -Belinda-, 12 February 2019 - 11:45 AM.


#20 ipsee

Posted 12 February 2019 - 12:23 PM

I think any group activity is good, it is a chance to build confidence with a new group of people.

Drama doesn't have to be full on though. My child was in a play as a group (eg 3 pigs), where they say their lines together. And there are plenty of parts with not many lines at all or group parts.

#21 hoohoobump

Posted 12 February 2019 - 06:53 PM

Karen Young on ‘Hey Sigmund’ website has some great ideas on this.

There’s a book (it’s a picture book, but quite advanced and she said she wrote it after talking to her 12 year old about anxiety) called ‘Hey Warrior’ that goes through anxiety and what it feels like etc.

There’s also a great podcast where Karen Young talks through anxiety - I think it’s on Tilt Parenting Podcast.

We also do mindfulness - Smiling Mind is free and has some for 10-12 year olds.



#22 unicycle

Posted 13 February 2019 - 01:26 PM

I have only just seen your post. Have you done any CBT yourself? A game changer for my son was sitting down with him and reading

The Book of It by Bev Aisbett( there a re a few books in the series with similar names).

https://www.goodread...-the-book-of-it

It is a book with few words but many simple drawings.

The first day, we stopped after a few pages because he was feeling raw.

Then a few days later he came to me and asked if we could read some more. Over the next few days, we read the book together and rejoiced when one of the anxiety triggers addressed didn't apply to him and explored further when they did.



I had first been given the book to read by my psych when i was dealing with a high level of situational anxiety.




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