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Children and Anxiety and Stress Disorders


Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Carol Merchant Ph.D. and Scott Kizner Ph.D. April 15th,2010 * * * * * * * * Generally Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) should be tried ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Children and Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Children and Anxiety and Stress Disorders
  • Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
  • Carol Merchant Ph.D. and Scott Kizner Ph.D.
  • April 15th,2010

Things to Ponder
  • Think of several things and/or events that have
    caused you to feel stressed or anxious
  • How do you know when you are overly stressed or
    anxious (describe what happens)?
  • Are there objects or events that you avoid?

APA Survey- 2009
  • 3 of Parents reported that their children are
    stressed out
  • 25 of Children reported that they are stressed
  • 36 of Children reported that they worry more
    this year than last year
  • 45 of Children reported that they can not sleep
    well because of excessive worrying

The Hurried Child
Anxiety Disorders
  • Intense fear of the unknown
  • Unrealistic worry about everyday life activities
  • Can last a long period of time and significantly
    affect their lives
  • Can lead to social and generalized problems that
    can interfere with school, friends, family,
    healthy functioning and all social activities
  • About 13 out of 100 children ages 9-17 experience
    some type of anxiety disorder
  • More prevalent with girls and it appears that
    children of parents with anxiety issues are at
    higher risk

Frustration and Stress
  • The process in which we are hindered or blocked
    from reaching goals results in frustration
  • Let Us Play- Share a Frustration Story
  • General Adaptation Syndrome
  • Locus of control
  • Defense mechanisms

Struggling Characteristics
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Test taking
  • Social Skills
  • Cognitive style
  • Remembering
  • Writing
  • Following Directions

Instructional Success in the Classroom
  • Sources of Aversive Stimuli- events or situations
    that are unpleasant, distasteful, or in general,
    events that are disliked
  • Social Interactions
  • Instructional Interactions
  • Instructional Materials and Tasks
  • Classroom Management

Teacher Threat Lower Grades, Failure, Calling
Parents, staying after school, Sarcasm
Teacher Frustration Receivessloppy
work Incomplete Work Negativism Slower work Poor
Student Resentment Feels. dehumanized, angry,
frightened, dumb
Student Mistrust and Vindictiveness Believes
..Teacher doesnt like him Teacher is unfair
Teacher doesnt understand Teacher is mean
I need to get even
Social Stress
  • Be a certain way in order to fit it
  • Look a certain way in order to fit in
  • Act a certain way in order to fit in
  • Avoid a situation
  • Withdraw from a situation
  • Escape from a situation

Childrens Reactions to Stress Varies According
  • Stage of childs development
  • Ability to cope
  • Length of time the stressor continues
  • Intensity of the stressor
  • Degree of support from family, friends and
    community (school, church, after-school programs)
  • Two frequent signs
  • Change in Behavior
  • Regression of Behaviors

Good vs. Bad Stress
  • Some stress is expected and normal
  • Predictable stress with life transitions
  • Babies learning to walk and talk
  • Entering Preschool or Kindergarten
  • Grappling with who am I as a teen
  • Moving to a new home and/or school
  • Finding a job after college graduation
  • Can be motivating and invigorating
  • Can be exciting
  • Necessary to present challenges for greater

Distress Too much
  • Ordinary stress is intensified or prolonged
  • Death
  • Parent separation/divorce/remarriage
  • Chronic Illness
  • Abuse/Bullying
  • Family or Community violence/economic hardship
  • Natural disaster
  • Fear of failure
  • Pressure to meet parental/teacher/self
  • Demands exceed coping ability


  • Medical Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
  • The most common of all mental disorders
  • Well researched
  • Medications specific to GAD, Panic Disorder,
    Phobias, OCD, PTSD
  • Best in combination with cognitive-behavioral
    therapy (management of symptoms and development
    of coping strategies)
  • Meds for children and adolescents-Issues

Learning to Cope-Resiliency
  • Poor coping through crying, fighting, withdrawing
  • Act before thinking developmental
  • Unable to think of options or results of actions
  • Just reacting
  • Given a supportive safety net, learn to bounce
    backbecome Resilient
  • Develop more and effective ways to cope
    successfully in the face of adversity or risk
  • Become stronger under difficult conditions

The Resilient Child
  • Self-esteem
  • Trust, optimism, hope
  • Sense of self-reliance
  • Hardiness handles stress
  • Sociability
  • Ability to experience a range of emotion
  • Positive coping skills- constructive thinking,
    ability to foresee consequences, problem-solve
  • Competence (chores, school, activities)

  • Often a childs first test in life in developing
    independence, self-confidence and
  • First mixing pot-learn ways of interacting with
    others that bring into adulthood
  • Both a powerful risk factor and protective factor
    a place of competition, success or failure
  • Other 3 Rs Reasoning, Responsibility,

Coping and De-stressing-Our role in helping
  • Work toward a stress-free environment
  • Orderly and consistent
  • Follow routines, give warning of change
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy foodno caffeine, low sugar
  • Quiet time-mind and body checks
  • Provide social/emotional support
  • Show genuine, positive regard for child
  • Listen and accept feelings without judgment
  • Smile often, show humor
  • Teach ways to think through a problem
  • Teach ways to anticipate stress and how to avoid

Relax a Minute
  • YouTube - Ocean Relaxation