When I reviewed curriculum for anxiety prevention, almost all the most effective ones (research based) had parent components.  Of course they did!  You cannot expect to make behavioral changes, especially in younger children, without the cooperation of their parents.

I totally love running my parent group.  I found that parents where very interested in the topic!  We ran the group very similar content wise to that of the kids.  Fortunately, COOL KIDS came with this manual.  I added additional information, videos on what is anxiety, articles on how we "get" anxiety, and also how deal in the moment and how to prevent anxiety.  Many parents expressed they had anxiety themselves, which we know from the research that parents with anxiety are more likely to "transmit" their anxious tendencies and responses to their children.  It is not inevitable, but we see it happen often.  I think my parents liked the group because many of them learned about how to deal with their own anxiety.

Click on my Parent Informational Letter to download a free sample

The toughest thing about the parent group was finding a common time for everyone to meet. Fortunately, I had a lot of moms who were 'stay-at-home'.  By the second year, I wound up offering a morning and an afternoon group.  For a few parents, I scheduled individual sessions a few times when they could take off work.  Attendance was often a problem as well, but I didn't want to be too hard on this.  I always emphasized that, "it only works if you come".  Also, I often offered coffee and bagels to sweeten the deal.  We had a group email and if 50% of the group could not come to a session, we would re-schedule. 

A large amount of the training was teaching and practicing relaxation techniques with the parents. We used apps, scripts and activities - we had parents try to schedule in relaxing types of activities, especially prior to bedtime.  We discussed what worked and what didn't work.  We probably spent the most time on 2 different types of relaxation and that was deep breathing (we called it cool breathing or belly breathing) and progressive muscle relaxation. The parents were more apprehensive to practice during group than the kids!  I'll go into what we used to practice relaxation in another blog. But for now, I'll show you one of our favorite resources was this video on YouTube.  Click on the image to see the video for yourself!

Belly Breathing, on YouTube by Common and Colbie Caillat is a favorite!

The parent manual in the Cool Kids program pretty much outlines session by session.  I added in a time for feedback, as the group sort of worked as a support group as well.  We also went over additional resources that anyone found to work on relaxation.  One of the first things we covered after the psycho-educational portion ("what is anxiety and how do you 'get' it") was to talk about how we respond to our children's anxiety.  This was were I saw the most change and most lightbulbs going off.  This article, by Go Zen, and online anxiety prevention program, sums it up nicely.  I printed this out and gave it to parents.  Click on the image to access a copy of it.  We'll talk about Go Zen in another blog post, as it is for older kids and also discuss the desensitization process. that we worked on.

Go Zen article, "5 Things You Should Never Say to an Anxious Child"

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