Childhood anxiety is part of normal development. Sometimes children are worried about mostly unfamiliar events. When you sit with them and use supportive statements to help them think through their worry, most children will move on.
When Childhood Anxiety is a Problem
Sometimes children have difficulties seeing things from a positive perspective, even after you have explained in detail why their thoughts might not make sense. Other times, children use avoidance behaviours, become distant, or use other behaviours to hide their anxiety or worry.
When worry and anxiety interfere with the child’s everyday happiness and quality of life, parents should know that such behaviours are no longer part of normal development. The proper assistance can help parents manage their child’s behaviour and help the child develop healthy thought patterns.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a well-known counselling modality for treating adults with anxiety and worry. Since CBT requires adults to analyze their behaviours and thoughts deeply, most CBT systems do not apply to children as these are too complex for children to understand. However, one child-friendly CBT program has been quite successful in helping children overcome unhelpful anxiety and worry. This program is called Cool Kids.
The Cool Kids program was developed by Macquarie University in Australia and has been running since 1993. The program has undergone continual scientific evaluation and development to include the latest understanding of anxiety and its treatment. It has been translated into several languages and is used in clinics, schools, and hospitals worldwide.
Cool Kids is a structured program that teaches children and their parents how to manage a child’s anxiety better. The program is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), involves the participation of children and parents, and focuses on teaching practical skills. The program is designed for children aged around 7 – 12. It uses a cognitive behavioural approach, focusing on teaching skills to manage anxiety.
The Goals of the Cool Kids Program
Even though counselling goals are always personalized, the benefits of using the Cool Kids program with children and parents have been demonstrated worldwide. Here are some benefits that children found after attending about ten sessions:
- Reduce symptoms and amount of life’s interferences caused by anxiety
- Increased school attendance
- Improved academic achievement
- Increased confidence
- Improved peer relationships
- Increase engagement in extra-curricular activities
- Reduced worry, shyness, fear, and family distress.
Structured Cool Kids Curriculum
In addition to assisting children with managing and facing their anxiety and worry, psychoeducational topics are also covered in the Cool Kids program. These include:
- Learning about anxiety
- Learning to think realistically
- Parenting an anxious child
- Facing fears using stepladders
- Learning coping skills such as assertiveness or problem-solving.
Getting Started with Cool Kids
Chris de Feijter is one of the two professionals in Saskatchewan who are accredited by Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health to use the Cool Kids program. If you are interested in learning how to help your child manage anxiety and worry, get in contact with Chris. Online sessions that fit your busy schedule are available