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Managing Children’s Anxieties: A New Opportunity for Parents as Coaches The F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids Mental Health Care. Think of what you’ve felt like when you’ve had a positive experience …. STOP. What kind of experience do you want your child to have?. ll.

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Managing Children’s Anxieties: A New Opportunity for Parents as Coaches

The F.O.R.C.E.

Society for Kids Mental Health Care

truth versus belief
Truth versus Belief
  • Approx. 9,000 children and youth in BC have an anxiety disorder. Truth
  • Poor parenting is the cause of the disorders. Belief
  • Parents of children ill with a mental disorder are treated with less respect. Truth
  • Parents can help prevent kid’s worries from developing into anxiety disorders. Truth
  • Almost 1 in 10 babies in a hospital nursery will exhibit signs of stress or anxiety. Truth
Who We Are…We are parents whose children’s lives are touched by mental disordersWhen We Learned We Weren’t Alone…January 2000…and every day sinceWhy We Formed a Society…To ensure mental health care and services are provided to children and youth and to assist their families in finding information and support

The F.O.R.C.E. History

anxiety is normal everyone has it
Anxiety is Normal….Everyone has it
  • Approach & avoidance behaviours
  • Safety signals
  • Normal emotional response essential for survival
  • Threat cues
  • Individual differences in the experience of anxiety
Group Exercise

What is your secret /not so secret fear?

  • Rate it on a fear thermometer of 1-5
  • What are your body clues when you are feeling anxious?
  • Form circle and exchange papers
now imagine
Now, imagine…
  • You had learned skills to cope with your fears or worries at age 9!!!
  • Your children can have that chance
  • You can learn how to coach your kids in these skills

Remember to Relax

I can do it! I can try my best!

Explore Solutions and Coping Step Plans

Now reward yourself! You’ve done your best!

Don’t forget to practice!

Smile! Stay calm for life!

why friends
  • FRIENDS is an acronym for the skills and strategies taught in the program
  • Our body is our friend
  • Be a good friend to ourselves
  • Make new friends
  • Talk to our friends
program approach
Program Approach
  • All feelings are normal
  • What we DO with our feelings is what counts the most
friends in the classroom
FRIENDS in the classroom
  • Offered to all school districts in BC
  • Based on prescribed learning outcomes for grades 4 & 5 in personal planning
  • First time ever offered in the classroom, versus individual or groups outside of class setting
  • Parent component being offered for first time this year
i i can do it i can try my best
I = I can do it! I can try my best!
  • Thoughts - feelings - behaviours
  • Self talk
  • Helpful, powerful, positive, optimisticgreen thoughts
  • Unhelpful, negative, pessimistic

red thoughts

  • Attention training exercises

think like a winner !!

The link between thoughts and feelings

UnhelpfulRed Thoughts


Sad, worried, angry feelings

Helpful Green Thoughts


Happy, confident feelings

I’ll give it my best shot!

I can do it!

Second place is a great effort!

I will get better!

I = I can do it! I can try my best!

flexibility in thinking








Problem Solving

Generate many solutions as a family/school group






changing unhelpful red thoughts page 30
Changing UnhelpfulRed Thoughts page 30


  • fear
  • sadness
  • Helplessness
  • lonely


  • crying
  • seeking reassurance
  • withdrawing
  • annoying others
  • giving up


  • no-one likes me
  • I’m going to be alone
  • Everyone thinks I am a geek
  • I’ll haveno fun





to play with

find someone before play time begins

Older buddy / mentor

bring toy / game to share

teacher intervene

find ways to initiate play with others

Keep chart monitor success

Problem Solving

Generate many solutions as a family/school group


  • smiling
  • approaching others
  • courage
  • assertive
  • taking risks
  • having fun


increased confidence



Feeling OK

I can be a good friend

Teacher cares and knows

I played the other day

I can be happy doing something I enjoy

thought exercise
Thought Exercise
  • Provide group with scenario
  • List ‘red’ thoughts that may occur
  • List ‘green’ thoughts that can replace ‘red thoughts’
ways others can help
Ways Others Can Help
  • Encouragers
    • Just try your best!
    • You can do it!
    • You did that really well!
    • I’m proud of you for trying hard!
    • You’re doing great,keep practicing!
  • Encourage children to pay attention to positives
    • To focus on the positive aspects of every situation.

Positive things from within, from others, or from the situation itself.

    • To expect good things to happen
why is it important to involve parents leader manual p 107
Why Is It Important to Involve Parents?(leader manual p. 107)
  • Encourage more time with their children:
    • Listening to their children’s solutions
    • Discussion of positive consequences
    • Reinforcement of proactive plans
  • Model approach and assertive plans
  • Establish routines, quiet time, adequate sleep time and appropriate diet
  • Monitoring and mentoring supportive friendships
benefits of parent training
Benefits of Parent Training
  • Become aware of their coping style & cognitive style
  • Development of stress management strategies
  • Practice modelling positive brave behaviours
  • Development of realistic expectations
  • Enhancement of family teamwork
  • Learn to help their children think in helpful ways
  • Awareness of child’s difficulties / fears; “at risk” times
  • Catch their child being brave, and reinforce them
  • Help their children/youth form support networks
parent training in bc
Parent Training in BC
  • Led by The F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids Mental Health (with funding from MCFD)
  • Offered to 15 school districts across BC – new component for 2005
  • 2 sessions for 2 hours
  • Ideally facilitated by school counselor
  • Collaboration with PAC and Mental Health Team

Contact : Donna Murphy:[email protected]

Keli Anderson: [email protected]

pac role
PAC Role
  • To advocate for The FRIENDS program in your school/school district
  • To talk about and ask for presentations on The FRIENDS program at your PAC meeting
  • To co-facilitate the parents’ training with your school counselor and MCFD therapist
what makes a difference
What makes a difference
  • Talking to other parents
  • Making connections and building relationships in the school and community
  • Having some easy, practical tools to apply
  • Learning to react differently
  • Finding one person in the school who can act as a ‘safe’ person for the child
continuum of care
Continuum of Care
  • The skills learned in grades 4 or 5 with the FRIENDS become life skills to be used forever.
  • Parents can also use the skill when they hit a rough patch or situation
  • Just because your child is doing well today, doesn’t mean they don’t need skills for managing stress and anxiety tomorrow.
our kids they re counting on us
Our Kids, they’re counting on us
  • To act as a community to support and help them
  • To see them through a different “lense”, and think of them beyond their behaviour
  • To help their parents get through the really tough times
we need to be with and for children not at them
We need to be

WITH and

FOR children,


AT them.

resources contact info
Resources & Contact Info
  • Some helpful websites:
resources contact info1
Resources & Contact Info
  • “Taming the Worry Dragon” Series
      • Includes books, manuals and videotapes
      • 604.875.3549
  • “Anxiety Disorders in Children and Youth”
      • Special issue of VISIONS (BC’s mental health journal)
  • Self-test for Teens experiencing anxiety problems
  • Self-test for parents of a child experiencing anxiety problems