Kids with anxiety and OCD often have an intimate connection with technology. It is where they go to distract themselves from their scary thoughts. It is where their obsessive nature takes over. It is the cause of huge meltdowns. It is the platform for google searches and rumination. It is the arena for bullying and low self-esteem.
What’s your child’s relationship with technology? Do you know how to harness its power for good? Technology is not the enemy. In fact, it can be a great resource if you know how to use it. Join me for an insightful discussion with Dr. Adam Pletter, a psychologist and national expert in technology.
The hardest part about having anxiety is the onslaught of anxious thoughts day after day after day. Now imagine you are just a kid. A kid who is learning how to tie his shoes. To multiply and divide. To make friends and keep friends. The constant flood of anxious thoughts is enough to make a child stop dead in their tracks. It is enough to make them want to retreat, to not get out of bed. It can derail their education and their ability to socialize.
Do you know why child OCD and anxiety can be so hard to get rid of typically? Because most kids subscribe to the OCD and anxiety channel in their brain. It is playing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can’t compete with that. A therapist can’t compete with that. Until your child learns how to change the channel in their brain or at least not subscribe to the OCD and anxiety network, little progress can be made.
So how do you get kids to change the channel? It is actually a hard skill for all of us, not just kids. But, it can be done! This week on Ask the Child Therapist Kids Edition I am talking to kids about how to pay attention to what is playing in their head and how to have some say in the programming.
So maybe you’ve heard about Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), but the ideas of how to do exposures are just not flowing? Developing exposures require a deep understanding of your child’s core fears, while being creative and thinking out of the box.
Anxiety and OCD love to hide. They love when kids deny they exist. They love when you can’t see them. They love when they are missed. So it makes sense that the first line of defense in your child’s battle with anxiety or OCD should be communication. When your child learns how to talk about anxiety and OCD – the problems can no longer hide.
So you might be saying, yeah that’s great, but how exactly do I get my kid to talk? Well that might be a bit tricky. Some kids don’t like to talk about anxiety or OCD. Some kids want to deny they are having issues right up until they implode. And some kids just need a little help with how to communicate such overwhelming and often embarrassing feelings.
If you want some creative ideas on how to get kids to talk about anxiety and OCD, have them watch this YouTube video I created just for them. I talk about why it is important that they communicate with you about their struggles and some out of the box ideas on how to do it!
When children are afraid or obsessed with a horrible thought you might think that the best way to help them is to teach them to get their mind “off of it.” Not only is this not effective, it can actually make anxiety and OCD worse. ERP for OCD and anxiety, also known as Exposure and Response Prevention is a counterintuitive therapy that has some parents running in the opposite direction.
But let me tell you why this wacky approach not only works, but is the gold standard for treatment.
Is anxiety and OCD bullying your child? Do you find your child spends much of their time avoiding fears and giving in to their anxiety or OCD bully? Families can feel like they are held hostage by anxiety and OCD. It can feel like every decision, every activity is controlled by this outside force.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it is important that your child can see that taking back power is the way to emotional freedom! So how do you do that? Especially if your child is paralyzed with fear or shutdown and won’t talk about it?
If you are dealing with Child anxiety or OCD there is one lethal weapon you are up against….doubt. Almost everything related to anxiety and OCD comes down to doubt and uncertainty. When you conquer doubt, you conquer anxiety and OCD.
Not sure how to do this with your child? Let me know you how…
Kids can’t fight anxiety until they understand anxiety. Parents often skip this step and wonder why their child’s anxiety never gets better. The best way to help kids with anxiety is to take the time to explain how anxiety works. So how do you explain anxiety to them in a way where they’ll not only get it, but be motivated to work on it?
Have them watch my YouTube video made just for anxious kids to watch. In this short video I explain what anxiety is, why kids get it and how it works. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for new videos every week created just for kids with anxiety and OCD.
Your child is refusing to go to school, but you don’t know why. Your child is up all night in a perpetual state of panic, but nothing seems to calm them down. Your child is tapping things and turning the light switch on and off three times, but you have no idea why. Knowing your child has anxiety or OCD is different from knowing what is behind your child’s anxiety or OCD.
You watch the child you once knew slowly disappear. The stress, the worry is slowly consuming them. Morphing them into someone you don’t completely recognize. Is this something you can handle? Are there things you should be doing differently? How are you supposed to know when you should get professional help for OCD or anxiety?
As a therapist, I get asked that question often. Here is my response…
Your child seems anxious. They are often paralyzed with fear. But, they also have many habits, quirks and tics. How can you tell what is anxiety and what might be OCD. And really – does it matter? It does. The treatment for anxiety and OCD are very different. In fact, some approaches to help anxiety can actually make OCD worse. Also, as parents you will want to respond in a different way depending on whether you are dealing with OCD or pure anxiety. So how can you tell the difference between anxiety and OCD. Let me tell you…
How many times have you heard people say things like,“you just coddle him too much” or “you just need to be tougher with her!” Some other oldies but goodies are, “She doesn’t act that way for me” and “he’ll grow out of it. Don’t worry.” Sometimes explaining anxiety to people who don’t get it can make your head spin. Trust me, I get it. I have bitten my tongue so many times – I have callouses. What about if those people are your other kids? What if you hear things like, “Why do you treat him like that?” or “If that was me I would totally get in trouble!” How can you explain anxiety to your other children so they can “get” their anxious sibling and maybe even help and not hurt the situation?
On a random sick day, my youngest anxious child loomed in my office as I prepared to record my latest podcast. “What are you doing?” She asked. I told her I’m going to be on the “radio” teaching parents how to help their anxious kids. My six year old’s eyes widen and she said, “Maybe they would like to hear from a kid instead?” I agreed. She pulled up a stool next to me. Her little feed dangling as she spoke in the big microphone. I listened in awe as my daughter talked about her battle with her “worry cloud.” She talked about what helps and what doesn’t. And once again the student was the teacher.