It creeps in quietly, but can cause quite a ruckus. It arrives at bed time, breakfast time, or anytime. It fills your child’s head with repetitive thoughts that can knock her for a loop. It’s the Worry Monster.
But like all monsters, this one can be slayed. You just need to choose your weapons wisely.
Make Your Worrier A Warrior, available in November at Great Potential Press, is a detailed guide packed with techniques to help your child conquer his or her fears and anxiety.* The author, Daniel Peters, PhD, a psychologist, himself suffered from anxiety as a child, so is uniquely sensitive to a child’s thoughts and feelings. As a child he was a serious worrier and a perfectionist, and is able to describe in clear language what that feels like for a child.
Also, as a parent and psychologist who specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, and families, (with a special emphasis on gifted children) Dr. Peters also understands the concern and feelings of helplessness a parent has when their child has anxiety. A parent watches her child miss out on important social and educational experiences because of fears . He or she might even struggle with depression and feelings of panic and low-self worth.
Nearly ten percent of adolescents 13-18 have been diagnosed with anxiety related disorders, and many more younger children and adolescents are un-diagnosed and untreated. Make Your Worrier A Warrior offers helpful clinical information in an accessible format so you can understand what your child is experiencing from a psychological view as well as a personal one.
Dr. Peters clearly explains anxiety-related disorders such as General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Phobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Perfectionism, and others. He shows how anxiety can manifest, and gives detailed descriptions of anxiety-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they can negatively impact a child’s life.
Very important is the comprehensive list of helpful strategies (interventions) which make this book so useful to parents. The strategies are listed by type: Cognitive (thinking), Mindfulness-based; and Behavioral.Dr. Peters goes into great detail on how a parent can implement them. He even addresses diet, breathing, and physical activity, which we are always happy to see. We believe a whole-person approach is essential to good mental health treatment.
One constant element Dr. Peter’s uses is “the worry monster”, a way of naming and understanding anxiety. Dr. Peters and parents have used it to great success. He gives a detailed plan to “tame” the worry monster and his real-life examples show that children really “get” it.
For example, Patrick, a ten-year old fifth grader with irrational and worrisome thoughts, has identified an OCD monster. It tells him “…something bad is going to happen. He makes me feel that i have to touch tings and wash my hands or something bad will happen.”
Dr. Peters asks: “How can you change your thinking? What can you tell the Worry and OCD Monsters so they don’t trick you?”
Patrick would tell himself: “The Monster doesn’t have magic powers. My team is stronger and more powerful than he is. He’s just a bully and a coward.”
Dr. Peters mentions that this book could also be titled A Parent’s Toolbox For Raising Resilient Kids. Indeed throughout the book, and in a section called Promoting Resilience, he does just that. We found that virtually most parents and children could benefit from many of the strategies in this book, because underlying all is the belief that given the proper tools, we can control our thoughts and cultivate healthy emotions. A powerful message in a timely book.
*Although this book is for parents who want to help their children’s anxiety, we were pleasantly surprised to find that many, if not most, of the strategies could be used by adults. In fact, positive self-talk, breathing techniques, letting thoughts pass, fake it to make it, and so on can be used by anyone to help with fears, anxiety, and worries.
You can pre-order Make Your Worrier A Warrior at Amazon.com.