An effective way to help your child or teen deal with anxiety and related problems is to give him or her tools that can be used to reduce worrying. These tools are intended to increase your youth's ability to tolerate anxiety, rather than to eliminate anxiety. Anxiety exists everywhere, and therefore it is an illusion to believe we can eliminate the source and experience of anxiety and its related problems. It is far more effective to provide your child with the tools to tolerate and cope, rather than to control and escape.
The universal tools outlined below fall in to one of four categories:
- Educational, or foundational - Broad information that applies to all youth with anxiety and related problems
- Physiological, or feeling - Tools designed to increase relaxation and reduce or eliminate unwanted physiological arousal or anxiety
- Cognitive, or thinking - Tools designed to promote smart thinking and increase confidence
- Behavioural, or doing - Tools designed to eliminate escape or avoidance behaviours, and to help youth improve his/her daily life
The following tools are listed in a recommended order, yet proceeding in this order will depend on the needs and capabilities of your child or teen. While we encourage that your youth choose tools from all four categories, where s/he starts can be up to him/her. For youth who consider themselves “thinkers,” tools like Balanced Thinking or Cognitive Coping Cards, may be of greater interest. Other youth are more action oriented, and may do better with tools that focus on what they are doing, such as Learning to Relax or Facing My Fears. Talk with your child/teen about whether s/he has a category preference of where to start. If s/he does not, then begin with the foundational tools and move onto the feeling, then thinking, and finally, doing tools.
Physiological or Feeling:
- Addressing Excessive Reassurance Seeking
- Facing My Fears
- Overcoming Perfectionism
- Rewarding Bravery
- Tolerating Uncertainty
- Parent Assisted Rituals
- Returning to Routines and Pleasant Events
A Note: Not all youth will proceed at the same pace, in the same order, nor will they always want to use each tool to its fullest. Work with your youth to give the tools a fair try, and model flexibility (after all anxiety is anything but flexible), in being willing to let your youth pick and choose from the list and proceed in an order and at a pace that suits him/her. For more information about pacing, please see our Session-to-Session Example