Most of my kids enjoy my COOL KIDS groups (anxiety prevention).  I did have one student 2 years ago, whose anxiety increased when he knew he was going to have to go to anxiety group.  The thought of talking about his anxiety, gave him anxiety.  Let's say we still have lots of work to do on UNHELPFUL thoughts.  With this student, I had to do individual sessions as he tries to bolt from the room or becomes extremely disruptive.  We disguised our lessons and intertwined shows he loves in them.  He has improved and is able to set in some groups, using his worry thermometer to let us know if he needs a break.

I use kid's favorite shows to increase attention and to explain concepts in ways they can understand.  This is the TV show American Ninja Warrior.  See it on my Teachers Pay Teachers site.

I always have a written schedule of each item we will do in the group or individual schedule, to decrease anxiety.  With my kiddo mentioned above, I always have a system where if he completes my 4 tasks (watch video, see lesson, practice breathing, answer comprehension questions - usually multiple choice written with pictures), then he can have free choice, usually 3 minutes watching his favorite YouTube videos.


After your psycho education is complete, fear assessment, teaching of helpful and unhelpful thoughts, it's time to teach about the anxiety body alarm.  This is what we adults know as your sympathetic system, which activates feelings of nervousness, such as sweaty palms, rapid heart beat, shaky hands, etc. In summary, some people have overactive systems and their alarms go off too often.  Just realizing that just because you have feelings of panic and anxiety, does not mean you are in danger, can be very empowering to children with anxiety.  I created a concrete and easy to understand story on this, comparing our body alarms to car alarms (false alarms happen!).

Anxiety concepts are so much easier to understand with real comparisons. Check out this lesson on my Teachers Pay Teachers site. 

For my older kids, we used a fantastic program called GO ZEN.  This program uses tons of highly engaging, often funny animations.  It uses a science based approach and is cognitive behavioral.  The characters are kids with common anxieties, in addition to an alien, who helps to teach.  The body alarm system is taught through the use of two characters, Til and Widdle each representing a different part of the brain.  It really makes it easier to understand and accept our anxiety.  This product is highly recommended and I'll probably talk more about it in another post because I love it so much.

This is Til and Widdle, representing, the new brain (reasoning and logic) and the older brain ( fight or flight).

I know we promised to talk about desensitization and it is coming soon!!!!  As always, comment or write to me with questions or successes or failures... happy teaching!

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