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Pathways Health and Research Centre

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1 Pathways Health and Research Centre

2 AGENDA What is Anxiety? What is Depression?
Why do some kids get distressed? Principles underlying the Fun FRIENDS program Introduce Steps of Fun FRIENDS Parenting Strategies Closure

3 WHAT IS ANXIETY? At some stage in their life everyone will feel anxious when faced with a difficult situation. Anxiety can sometimes be out of proportion to threats from the environment. Anxiety is usually associated with worrying about future events. Anxiety becomes a difficulty when it prevents children from enjoying normal life experiences.

4 CHILD ANXIETIES All children experience anxiety as part of their normal development. 0 - 5 Months Loss of support, loud noises Months Fear of strangers, fear of sudden, unexpected and looming objects 1 Years Separation from parent, toilet, injury, strangers 2 Years Many fears, including loud noises, animals, dark rooms, separation, large objects, change in environment 3 - 4 Years Masks, the dark, animals, separation, noises 5 Years “Bad” people, bodily harm, animals, dark, separation 6 Years Supernatural beings, bodily injuries, thunder and lightening, dark, sleeping or staying alone 7 – 8 Years Supernatural beings, dark, fears based on media events, staying alone, injury Years Test and exams, school performance, bodily injury, physical appearance, thunder and lightning, death, the dark (low percentage) Adolescents School, home, safety, political issues, personal relationships, personal appearance, natural phenomena, future, animals.

Some children who experience anxiety also suffer from depression. What is Depression? At some stage in their life, everyone will feel depressed, though not to a degree or with a frequency that warrants the diagnosis of depression. Depressed children may appear agitated and overly active and aggressive. Depression produces a mood of profound sadness that is out of proportion to the child’s life situation. Depression becomes a difficulty when it causes a child to lose interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable experiences.

6 PROTECTIVE FACTORS The Fun FRIENDS program teaches children to develop skills needed to better cope with the ups and downs of life – for the rest of their lives. Schools: Provide a close network or community. A happy, encouraging school environment is an important contributing factor to the sensitive child feeling more confident and brave. Cognitive Styles: The way we think and view the world in positive or negative ways. The Fun FRIENDS program maximizes these protective factors.

7 WHAT IS FUN FRIENDS? An early childhood program specifically developed by world-renowned child psychologist Dr. Paula Barrett for early childhood professionals, parents, and children. Adapted from Dr. Barrett’s Friends for Life program and is designed specifically for four, five, and six year old children. Teaches emotional resilience and social skills development that will stay with young children for life.

8 SYMBOLISM OF FRIENDS The symbolism drawn from the word FUN FRIENDS is based on the following principles: The word FRIENDS helps children to remember each of the skills taught throughout the program (i.e. each letter stands for a new skill learned). Our body is our FRIEND and tells us when we are feeling worried or nervous by giving us clues. It is important to learn to be our own FRIEND and reward ourselves when we try hard. It is important to make FRIENDS, so that we can build our social support network and feel happier. FRIENDS can help us to cope with difficult situations more effectively.

9 Model for Fun Friends Attachment Learning Cognitive Physiological
Empathy Mirror self worth Stable unconditional loving relationships Acceptance Developmental readiness Learning Problem solving skills Coping behavioural skills Positive role models Support networks Cognitive Positive thinking skills about self, others and the environment; Paying attention to positives Physiological Awareness of body clues Relaxation techniques Self-regulation

10 Nurture (Social and Emotional Development
Families Uniting to Nurture (Social and Emotional Development of Children) F eelings (talk about your feelings and care about other people’s feelings) R elax (do “milkshake” breathing, have some quiet time) I can try ! (we can all try our best) E ncourage (step plans to a happy home) N urture (quality time together doing fun activities) D on’t forget - be brave! (practice skills everyday with friends /family) S tay happy 

11 F = FEELINGS The program helps our children learn to identify when they are feeling worried or nervous by recognising their own individual body clues, which prompt them to calm down and relax. Learning to understand our own and other people’s feelings Working on feeling happy, brave and confident. How can you help your child tune into these body clues at home?

12 R = REMEMBER TO RELAX This step teaches children to learn and practise a variety of relaxation techniques. Breathing By taking slow, deep breaths we can relax our body, our heart beats slower, and we feel less tense and worried. Muscle Relaxation When we tense and relax our muscles our body releases chemicals called endorphins which make us feel relaxed. Quiet Time Activities that make yourself feel happy and relaxed. How can you help your family (both children and parents) to practise relaxation exercises that will help them to feel better?

13 I = I CAN TRY! This step teaches children to tune into their self-talk. This is an important skill as thoughts influence feelings and behaviour. Children learn how to think in helpful ways, so they can feel better about themselves, and cope more effectively with difficult situations.

14 I can try my best! I won’t give up! I’m happy with myself when I try!
RED AND GREEN THOUGHTS The link between thoughts and feelings Unhelpful RED Thoughts = Sad, worried, angry feelings Helpful GREEN Thoughts Happy, confident feelings, or reduced distress I can try my best! I won’t give up! I’m happy with myself when I try! Green Thoughts

15 GREEN THOUGHTS Green thoughts are things you say to yourself in your head that make you feel good feelings (e.g. happy, confident, brave, calm). So they are HELPFUL thoughts. E.g. I can do it! I’ll try my best. I am brave. My teacher can help me. I’m good at lots of things. Mummy always picks me up at the end of the day – she won’t forget. It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake – everyone makes mistakes.

16 RED THOUGHTS Red thoughts are things you say to yourself that make you feel unhappy feelings (e.g. worried, sad, angry, stressed out) or make you feel less confident. So they are UNHELPFUL thoughts. E.g. I can’t do this. I don’t want to go, because I won’t have fun. No one likes me. I’m silly. People will laugh at me. I can’t do it without Mum and Dad. Mummy will forget to pick me up at the end of the day.

Another way you can help your child change unhelpful thoughts into helpful thoughts is to challenge them by asking certain questions, and looking for evidence against the unhelpful thoughts. e.g. “I can’t do anything right.” To find out how silly that thought is, ask some simple questions… Is that really true? Are you exaggerating? Now try to make a helpful green thought by… Naming 2 or 3 things that you can do well (e.g. at school, home, or at a friend’s house).

This step teaches educators, parents and children to find ways to solve problems in difficult or worrying times. COPING STEP PLANS The step plan involves breaking down a challenging situation into small, achievable, easy steps. The steps gradually become more difficult until the fear is overcome or the goal is achieved. Children should use the Fun FRIENDS plan (deep breaths, thinking helpful thoughts) as they climb each step. The child should not climb the next step until they feel calm and relaxed on the current step. What challenging situations could you help your child to overcome?

19 COPING STEP PLAN Here is an example of how to break down a fear of spiders into small steps. 7. Go close to a spider in its web outside. 6. Hold the glass jar with the spider enclosed inside it. 5. Have a spider enclosed in a glass jar in the same room. 4. Have a spider enclosed in a glass jar in another room. 3. Hold a plastic spider in your hand. 2. Watch a documentary about spiders. 1. Read a book that contains pictures of spiders. *It is important to negotiate rewards when each step has been achieved.

20 COPING STEP PLAN Here is an example of learning to try to eat new foods. 7. Eats new food regularly 6. Tries a little more another night 5. Takes one or two bites of his / her own 4. Has a little on his / her plate at dinner 3. Takes one or two bites of Mum / Dad’s 2. Tries new food mixed in with other familiar food or as part of a pie / casserole 1. Touches & smells new food *It is important to negotiate rewards when each step has been achieved.

This step teaches children that it’s important to reward themselves when they cope with a difficult or worrying situation. REWARDS Rewards that are administered immediately and consistently positively reinforce childrens’ trying hard. What rewards could you give children for trying hard?

Spending time engaging in their favourite activity Spending quality time with friends and family members Being allowed to stay up for an extra half an hour on the weekend Using star charts which work as tokens towards earning a grand reward (ideal for the coping step plan) Using a picture of a toy/game that the child really desires, cut into pieces like a jigsaw. Each time the child tries hard they pick a piece of jigsaw out of a hat. Once children have earned all the pieces and rebuilt the jigsaw they are rewarded with that toy/game.

Differential Attention This involves attending to and rewarding positive behaviour (e.g. giving praise, rewards or attention when child is approaching a difficult or challenging situation, playing quietly, etc.) and ignoring undesirable behaviour (avoidance or difficult situations, misbehaviour).

Modelling Appropriate Behaviour The child responds to events as they have seen their parents respond to them. As such, parents should approach the difficult situations that the child fears, encouraging the child to follow them.

Talking with our children We can encourage children to approach situations by talking to them about their concerns, and the future situations they may face. When we talk to our child we are helping them to feel supported and understood. By talking with our child we are teaching them conversational and social skills, and helping to build their self-esteem by showing that we are interested in what they have to say.

26 THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE Often when we become really stressed or anxious we tend to spend the majority of our attention focusing on complaints about how we have stomach aches, headaches, and how everything is going wrong. Whilst it is important to acknowledge difficult times and show empathy, it is also important that we talk about the little happy things that happen everyday, and to notice things that we do well.

It is important that we encourage children to build supportive relationships. We can do this by: Inviting child’s friends over for a video Planning a picnic and encouraging your child to invite a friend Providing a nice, welcoming environment for your child’s friends when they visit

There are no right or wrong ways of parenting, but from research we know: Every individual needs to allocate calm, relaxing quality times. It is important that we try and think in helpful, positive ways. It is important to allocate special times as a family and discuss things we do right and the little happy events that occur. It is important that we take time to notice and tell our children and partners what they are doing well and when we notice them trying their hardest. It is important to have quality times as individuals, as couples and as families, and to establish support networks.

As parents or adults we can: Allow a special time to talk about the important ways of dealing with childhood anxiety and/or misbehaviour. Establish a clear understanding of ways to encourage and praise children for being good or brave. Establish consistent strategies for dealing with children’s complaints, whinging, avoidance and specific behaviour problems (e.g. answering back, non-compliance).

30 As parents or adults we can:
cont’d Ensure that both you and your partner share realistic expectations of your children (i.e. they are not going to overcome their fear in one day, and this will take time, practice and perseverance). Reward each individual in the family with individual quality time.

In this step we remind children not to forget to practise the FRIENDS plan, which will help them feel better about themselves! HOW CAN THEY DO THIS A good way for children to learn how to manage a situation they feel anxious about is to practise the situation through the use of role-plays. E.g.if afraid of talking in front of the class they could practise in front of a mirror or with parents. E.g. if afraid of a particular social situation we can help by practising what to say while using relaxation techniques and attending to their self-talk.

32 S = STAY HAPPY! When your child is feeling worried or nervous they must try and stay calm – they know how to feel confident and brave now.

The following are a list of possible support options for participants if they are experiencing difficulties or experience difficulties in the future. Guidance counsellors Community centres Psychologists Social workers Family and friends Library resources

This presentation has been produced for the express purpose of informing parents and educators about the Fun FRIENDS program. The information contained in these power point slides can not be replicated, used, nor presented in any media without written permission from the author.

35 Pathways Health and Research
THANK YOU! Pathways Health and Research Ph

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