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Friday, August 14, 2015

book - Growing Up Brave

Growing Up Brave
Expert Strategies for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear, Stress, and Anxiety
by Donna B. Pincus, PhD

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This was an awesome book! I really highly recommend it, not just for parents though, but also for all educators and school counselors. As a counselor, I learned tons in it about how to help youth deal with anxiety. A great read! The author is a professor at Boston University, and she seems to intelligent in this field. 

"Anxiety is real. It's not at all bad; in fact, this completely normal human emotion is not only unavoidable, but it's a necessary and useful part of life. Most children figure out how not to let their fears get the better of them. Others have a harder time." (page 11)
  • "A brave child navigates tough situations, even if he worries that every other kid he knows seems to have no problem with them. He learns to cope with his emotions, no matter what they are or how uncomfortable they make him. He confronts what he's most afraid of, and does not let what's stressful in the world stop him from taking steps, moving forward, and participating in his life. He knows that some things are hard, but even when his brain is saying 'You can't do this' he develops the personal resources to deal with stress, with daily hassles, and with what frightens him. He learns to be accepting of himself; he feels good about his accomplishments." (page 13)
  • Kids who are able to be brave see "difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided." (page 13)
"Children do watch us. They pick up cues about what's a worry and what's not a worry from the way we behave." (page 31)
  • When a parent should be worried about a child with possible anxiety disorder: (page 37)
    • worry lasts for months at a time, causing physical distress (headaches, stomachaches, trouble sleeping, nightmares, etc.)
    • refusal to go to school or other locations 
    • negative attitude 
    • asks a lot of questions - when you will be home, etc.
    • irritable or angry
    • critical of himself 
    • avoiding participating in events 
    • the fears from your child are impacting the family's life 
"Children are resilient. They can learn hard lessons. But to grow up brave, they need the opportunity and psychological space to grapple with negative feelings and to navigate the sometimes uncomfortable but unavoidable expertness of life largely on their own terms. They need to experiment, need room to try things out. It's really about the development of coping resources. I think of it as emotional coping." (page 68)
  • Five-Minutes-A-Day - preventing anxiety. Five minutes devoted only to playing with your child. Even having a box of special toys that only come up during Special Time. 
    • PRIDE - Praise, reflect on what your child says, imitate her actions, describe what she's doing, express enthusiasm. 
    • This offers the child control over a part of his life, consistency, support, etc. Teaches the child he's good at things. 
  • Anxiety - it's important to help kids understand "what I think, what I feel, what I do" when they feel panic coming on or anxiety feelings. (page 123)
  • It's important to teach kids to critically think about their worries and ask questions to figure out if what they are worrying about is accurate or is something actually going to happen. (page 142)
    • Do I know for sure that ___ will happen?
    • How likely is it to happen?
    • Has ___ ever happened before?
    • Do I have a crystal ball?
    • Even if ___ happens, can I live through it?
    • What is the worst possible outcome? How bad is that?
    • Could I cope?
    • Do I know anyone else in this situation?
    • Have I ever coped with something like this in the past?
    • Is this really so terrible?
  • page 142 - draw two cirlces that look like pies. Ask the child to show how large of the pie they are worrying about something in one pie. Then talk abut those questions above and research the issue, and then draw a pie of how much you think you should be worrying. 
  • worry bag or box - writing worries down makes them tangible and  you can give them away, put them somewhere. 
  • The Worry Train relaxation - page 161 - close eyes, imagine a train is coming and you put your worries on each cart of the train. 
  • The Bravery Ladder (page 188) make rungs of the ladder, with the least worrisome thing you could do to deal with something that scares you, and then at the top is the most difficult thing to do. It could be about one issue and steps toward that issue, or several things that make one anxious with the most anxiety-causing issue at the top of the ladder.
  • If a child agrees to try something he's worried about but then gets anxious doing it, stick it out, wait until the child's anxiety is at least half of what it was, he's calmer and not crying, then leave. Praise him trying to stick it out. 
A great read, full of resources and wonderful ideas about encouraging your child to be bold, brave, resilient, and to let go of worrisome thoughts. 

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