Fight Flight Or Freeze
Worry will go to great lengths to avoid situations that make it feel uncomfortable and uncertain. When children feel unable to handle something, they move quickly into avoidance. If pushed, they will then go into fight, flight or freeze. And thats when you will likely have a battle on your hands.
Of course, simply forcing your child to step into situations without tools to manage her anxious thoughts and physical sensations wont work in the long term. The goal is to help your child learn how to tolerate uncertainty, be flexible, and manage uncomfortable sensations and, manage their behavior.
Effective strategies do this for children and families. As a family is learning to handle the behavior in different ways, I almost always offer this important directive.
Do not tolerate unacceptable behavior in your anxious child that you wouldnt tolerate in others.
Is it okay for your child to hit? Scream at you and others? Demand you do things for him? Refuse to follow family rules?
When I begin working with a family, we talk about how the worry behaves in order to avoid and stay comfortable. Often, though, Ill discover pretty quickly that this same tantruming behavior occurs in other situations that have nothing to do with anxiety.
Mom may report, He screams at me when I tell him to get off the computer, too. Or when I remind him to brush his teeth. If I make something for dinner he doesnt like, he throws himself on the floor, or even swears at me.
Nighttime Fears In Children: A Practical Guide For The Science
Nighttime fears are very common, and may include fears of intruders, monsters, unexplained sounds, and darkness. In this article, I review
- The evolutionary basis for childrens fears
- Why kids may be biologically unprepared to cope by themselves, and
- How you can help your child overcome her fears and anxieties
If your child suffers from frightening dreams or nighttime screaming episodes, you might also want to check out this article on opens in a new window nightmares and night terrors.
How To Help Kids With Anxiety
Parents have an important and essential role in helping children deal with anxiety disorders. One of the vital ways that parents can be instrumental in reducing a childs anxiety is by not inadvertently reinforcing it. Childrens natural response to anxiety is to rely on parents for help and that is a normal way that human beings respond to fear or anxiety when they are young, Lebowitz explains While an adult might respond to fear primarily with self-defense, the fight or flight response, children dont have that capacity. They are programmed to respond to fear by signaling their parent so that the parent can protect and soothe the child until the perceived danger has passed, says Lebowitz. Parents, in turn, are naturally hardwired to detect cues of fear in their children and to step in to provide that protection and emotional regulation, he says.
However, a child with an anxiety disorder experiences anxiety even when the situations or circumstances dont warrant that heightened response. And what that happens the parent responds to the childs distress through accommodation, explains Lebowitz. What that means is that to help the child, the parent responds differently to the situation than they normally would.
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Teaching Students With Social Anxiety Disorder
Teaching students with social anxiety disorder can be challenging. School can be difficult for students with SAD. If you are a teacher of a student with social anxiety disorder, knowing how to encourage and foster a good environment for learning is key.
Below are some tips to help you structure your classroom in ways that will encourage the student with SAD.
Distinguish Between Real Threats And False Alarms
Talk to your child about how anxiety is meant to keep them safe. For instance, if they were being chased by a lion, their brain would signal to their body that they’re in danger. They would notice changes in their body like sweaty palms and an increased heart rate. They would get an immediate rush of energy as they prepare to bolt from the lion .
Then tell them there are also times when their brain triggers a false alarm. These false alarms can cause them to feel intense fear over situations that are far from life-or-death. False alarms can include situations like trying out for the basketball team, speaking in front of a lot of people, or preparing for a big test.
When they’re anxious, ask, Is your brain giving you a real alarm right now or a false alarm? Then, help them decide what action to take.
Explain that if its a real threat, they should listen to those alarm bells and take action to keep themselves safe. But if its a false alarm, its a good idea to face their fears.
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How Can You Help
- Try to speak to your child about whats been happening. Check out our tips for figuring out whats up with your teenager for advice on how to do this.
- Let the school know whats going on. You could talk to your child’s teacher, year coordinator, deputy principal or the Wellbeing staff. If the first person you contact at school isnt helpful, you can ask them to refer you to someone else.
- Find out about the schools attendance policies and procedures. This will help you to avoid any legal or financial penalties while you try to address the problem.
- Cooperate with the school and your child to improve their attendance. Working together with the school will give your teen the best chance of overcoming their anxieties about school. Focus on trying to make school a structured and predictable part of your teens life. Some practical steps could be to ask the school to:
- excuse your child from activities that make them anxious eg. reading aloud
- let you know if there will be a substitute teacher
- organise regular meetings with your main contact at the school.
Disciplinary Techniques For Children On The Autism Spectrum
These positive strategies for disciplining children with autism should be implemented by parents, teachers, and caregivers in a consistent manner. When used each time the childâs behavior is in need of correction, these methods are highly successful in regard to promoting good behavior:
If a child with autism disregards a home or classroom rule, adults can simply and firmly restate the rule so that the child is reminded of the appropriate way to behave. For example, if the child leaves his or her seat during a lesson, the teacher can say, âYou must sit in your chair.â Children with autism tend to respond well to visual cues, so teachers and parents may want to make signs with pictures or text for the child to observe when being disciplined.
Redirection is another positive strategy for caregivers to try when disciplining an autistic child. In this situation, the child is led away from the area where the disruption is occurring and encouraged to focus on a new activity. Redirection is often effective when a child is frustrated and at risk for displaying inappropriate behaviors such as yelling, throwing items, or becoming aggressive.
Because autistic children are visual and concrete thinkers, adults who are in an authoritative position may wish to use the âgreen light, yellow light, red lightâ system as a way of reminding the child to exhibit appropriate behaviors.
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Promote Relationships In Class
Children with SAD may have trouble bonding with others. You can help them form relationships with these strategies:
- Pair students for activities, rather than allowing students to choose pairs, to prevent the student with social anxiety disorder from being left out.
- For younger children, make the child with SAD your special helper to give them a role in the classroom.
- Encourage friendships between children with social anxiety disorder and friendly, outgoing classmates.
- Allow the child with SAD to sit with classmates with whom they are familiar.
Resources For Parents Of Anxious Children
- Lebowitz, E.R.,et al. Parent-Based Treatment as Efficacious as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Childhood Anxiety: A Randomized Noninferiority Study of Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed February 25, 2021
- Merikangas, K., Hep, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Benejet, C, Swendsen, J. . Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey ReplicationAdolescent Supplement .Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 980-989. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017 Accessed February 25, 2021
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Whats The Best Way To Discipline A Child With Adhd And Odd
To discipline a child with ADHD and ODD, understand the nature of the disorders. Both ADHD and ODD affect behavior therefore, concentrating on modifying your childs actions is what will work best. Trying to involve emotions or thoughts doesnt work for these kidsand it usually just worsens their behavior. Approximately 30 to 50 percent of children with ADHD also have signs of ODD. Heres the best way to discipline them.
ADHD and ODD sometimes look similar. Both involve acting-out behavior and poor listening skills. The two disorders also interfere in forming and keeping friendships as well as getting along easily with adults. These similarities are only superficial, however. The difference, and one that is important when disciplining a child with ODD and ADHD, lies in intent.
Kids with ADHD usually arent intentionally defiant. Disruptive behaviors stem from the frustrations of ADHD and the neurological causes of this disorder of executive functioning. When a child has ODD, on the other hand, their aggressive behavior, acting out, refusal to follow instructions, and mistreatment of others are all intentional behaviors chosen to annoy and anger other kids and adults.
How To Identify Anxiety
It probably occurs more than we think, either anxiety that looks disruptive or anxiety coexisting with disruptive behaviors, Dr. Busman adds. It all goes back to the fact that kids are complicated and symptoms can overlap diagnostic categories, which is why we need to have really comprehensive and good diagnostic assessment.
First of all, good assessment needs to gather data from multiple sources, not just parents. We want to talk to teachers and other people involved with the kids life, she adds, because sometimes kids that we see are exactly the same at home and at school, sometimes they are like two different children.
And it needs to use rating scales on a full spectrum of behaviors, not just the area that looks the most obvious, to avoid missing things.
Dr. Busman also notes that a child with severe anxiety whos struggling in school might also have attentional or learning issues, but she might need to be treated for the anxiety before she can really be evaluated for those. She uses the example of a teenager with OCD who is doing terribly in school. Shes ritualizing three to four hours a day, and having constant intrusive thoughts so we need to treat that, to get the anxiety under control before we ask, how is she learning?
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Causes Of Childhood Anxiety Disorder
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health , both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Research shows that biology, biochemistry, life situations, and learned behaviors all play a role. Many anxious kids have anxious family members, says Alvord. Children model behaviors on what they see, she adds.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders In Children
: Excessive worrying that something bad will happen if the child is not with their parents, caregiver, or anyone to whom they are attached. The child may be reluctant or refuse to stay at a relative or friends house, sleep alone or go to school. Many children experience separation anxiety between 18 months and three years old when it is normal to feel some anxiety when a parent leaves the room or goes out of sight. Usually, children can be distracted from these feelings. However, separation anxiety may surface or resurface when the child is older and especially between ages 7 and 9.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Chronic anxiety and excessive worry about everything and everyday life. A child with GAD worries about the meaning of a canceled play date or a delayed response to a text. Children with GAD fret about bad things happening to people they love or that no one will come to the birthday party they didnt want in the first place. The worry is overblown in relation to the events that sparked the worry. GAD is exhausting as children worry chronically and constantly and cant control these thoughts. In addition, children with GAD often dont trust their instincts and seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
A panic attack usually lasts about 15-30 minutes whereas the resulting fear of another attack persists and that fear of panic returning is what triggers avoidance behavior to avoid another attack.
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Helpful Tips For Disciplining A Child With Adhd And Odd
Using your understanding of ADHD, ODD, and your unique child will help you use behavior modification to shape their behavior. Perhaps the most important, albeit difficult, factor to determine is which disruptive behaviors need negative consequences and which do not.
Imagine that your child is having an intense temper tantrum. Is your child having a meltdown because theyre hungry and frustrated that the neighborhood kids wont let them play? That behavior isnt acceptable and needs to be addressed however, it probably doesnt need consequences. If, however, your childs tantrum began because they didnt want to listen and involves throwing objects, kicking people, or other destructive behavior, the tantrum is intentional and needs to be punished.
Once youve determined the nature of your childs misbehavior, you can use behavior modification to continue the process of improving their behavior. Consider these tips:
- Use clear, consistent rules
- Post the rules in prominent places in the house to help your child remember them
- Consistency is keyenforce the rules, and use the established consequences and rewards, with no exceptions
- Use a token economy reward system where your child earns small trinkets or stickers that add up to reach a larger reward for good behavior
- Catch your kids behaving well rather than only looking for negative behaviors keep your focus on the behavior you want rather than on what you dont
How To Discipline A Child With Adhd: Focus On The Behavior
On the inside, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder and has to do with brain functioning. The inattention, difficulty focusing, working memory, and struggle to sustain effort long enough to complete a task are executive functioning issues.
From the outside, though, ADHD looks like a behavior disorder. It certainly involves misbehaviors: not listening, daydreaming, forgetfulness, irresponsibility, not finishing anything, disorganization, and other behaviors caused by executive functioning problems look like blatant defiance. Many kids with ADHD are hyperactive, overly talkative, and disruptive.
Because ADHD involves undesirable behaviors, addressing and changing behaviors is at the heart of effective discipline. Talking to kids about their thoughts or emotions doesnt work as a discipline strategy for ADHD. What does work is remaining focused on the childs behavior in the moment.
The best way to discipline a child with ADHD is with behavior modification. This is a methodical approach to changing behaviors that, when used consistently, helps kids improve how they act. Use these principles of behavior modification to discipline your child:
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