RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Children and Anxiety

Ask a TFI Expert: Talking summer camp with Hollie Sobel, PhD

Ask a TFI Expert: Talking summer camp with Hollie Sobel, PhD

With summer vacation in full swing, join us on TFI Talks as we explore all things Summer Vacation with insights from our expert clinicians.

Today, Family Institute staff therapist Hollie Sobel, PhD, discusses summer camp and ways to keep the stress and anxiety to a minimum.

There’s something for everyone

Today you can find a camp for just about anything.

If your child is interested in activities such as video games, camps with a gaming focus can be a way to work on social skills while partaking in a personal interest. Adolescents can attend specialty camps in areas of interest (e.g., computers) that can help them gain skills for a future career.

For children who struggle with mental health issues, there are camps geared toward specific issues such as Autism or ADHD. These unique camps give kids the opportunity to socialize and have fun while working on and through some of their issues. Since all the campers have similar struggles, it can help the children to feel like they fit in.

Sports camps (e.g, hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer) can help children to use their energy in productive ways. They can also learn teamwork and good sportsmanship.

There are plenty of different ways to work a summer camp into your child’s schedule. Try to find a camp that aligns with his/her interests and help create opportunities for growth and development.

Overnight camp

Overnight camp provides kids with new and exciting opportunities but can lead to a lot of anxiety. As the date to leave for camp approaches, parents may notice their child’s anxiety increases — the closer they get, the less they want to actually go.

Help ease the transition by reaching out to camp staff ahead of time, and work with them to get all of the necessary details in place, and ease some of your kids’ anxiety and stress. Many camps and camp counselors have experience working with parents and families during the weeks leading up to overnight camp.

Keep tabs on the anxiety.

It’s normal to feel some anxiety surrounding summer camp, as it involves meeting new people and going to new places. Some kids, however, will need more help with their anxiety than others.

Anxiety warning sign to watch for:

  • Difficulty separating from parents under typical circumstances
  • Clingy behaviors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Somatic complaints (stomachaches, headaches)
  • Irritability
  • Statements refusing to attend the camp

Dr. Hollie Sobel provides individual, family, and group psychotherapy. Dr. Sobel has specialization in using researched-based cognitive-behavioral techniques with children and adolescents to improve mood, decrease levels of anxiety, and enhance functioning across home, school and social settings. She includes children/adolescents and parents in the treatment planning process, as family involvement is often important in reaching treatment goals.

To read Dr. Sobel’s full bio or make an appointment, visit our webpage.

The Family Institute offers a wide variety of affordable counseling care that treats whole individuals and their loved ones throughout the Chicagoland area. Find out more at our website.

4 Ways to Manage Anxiety in Children

Posted on

Teenager with DepressionAnxiety in children, teens and young adults is a big issue—so big that The Family Institute’s next Circle of Knowledge event focuses on the topic. At this event, Dr. Danielle Black, Director of the Institute’s child and adolescent services, will help parents differentiate between normal worry for our children, teenagers and young adults as they face the pressures of school, sports and socializing, and more severe anxiety symptoms that may be signs of a larger issue. She will also explore how anxiety can be turned into a positive thing that can help your kids become successful.

See below for more information on this event, as well as 4 ways you can help your children manage their anxiety.


 

Be mindful of avoidance.

The most common response to anxiety is some form of avoidance, aimed at either getting relief from anxiety or keeping oneself from experience elevated levels of anxiety in the first place. For example, a child with a dog phobia may panic and run anytime that he sees a dog, rendering him unable to enjoy going to the park or playing at certain friends’ houses.

This avoidance response can leave parents, caretakers and educators feeling confused and stressed, as children refuse to engage in formerly enjoyable activities, from soccer practice to school to birthday parties (depending on the source of their particular form of anxiety).

 

Be mindful of control.

Another common manifestation of anxiety is to exert control over anxiety-inducing situations. For example, a child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may demand that everyone in the home wash their hands excessively, or that they complete the morning routine in a rigid, prescribed fashion. This behavior is aimed at reducing anxiety by increasing the child’s sense of control and making the environment more predictable, but it can cause significant interpersonal stress for children and their families.

 

Offer support, but don’t reinforce or accommodate.

It can be easy for parents, caretakers or educators to accommodate children’s anxiety. Accommodation refers to any change in routine or environment that is made with the specific intention of reducing or avoiding a child’s anxious behaviors. For example, a parent may call the school to say that a child is ill, when in fact the child is anxious about a school presentation and refusing to leave the house. Or a teacher may answer the same “what if…” question repeatedly, despite knowing that the answer is already been provided. These are usually well-intentioned efforts to reduce a child’s anxiety in the short-term. However, accommodation of anxious behaviors reinforces anxiety over time because it signals that the perceived threat is legitimate (i.e., serious enough to warrant a response from the adult) and that the child is not expected to tolerate feelings of anxiety.

 

Empower yourself.

Because some level of anxiety is a totally normal part of the human experience, most children to display anxious behaviors from time to time. Parents, educators and caretakers should consider looking to professional help when anxiety begins interfering with a child’s day to day functioning, by affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and/or their willingness to try new things.

 

The Family Institute’s Child and Adolescent services offers support and effective treatment for anxiety in kids and teens. Visit our website to learn more.

To learn more about Straight A’s & Stressed, our next Circle of Knowledge Event that focuses on children and anxiety, visit our website and see below more information.

 

Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Presented by Danielle Black, PhD

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org

Anxiety & Kids: Too much, too little, or just enough?

Posted on

Daughter Clinging To Working Mother's LegAnxiety in children, teens and young adults is a big issue—so big that The Family Institute’s next Circle of Knowledge event focuses on the topic. At this event, Dr. Danielle Black, Director of the Institute’s child and adolescent services, will help parents differentiate between normal worry for our children, teenagers and young adults as they face the pressures of school, sports and socializing, and more severe anxiety symptoms that may be signs of a larger issue. She will also explore how anxiety can be turned into a positive thing that can help your kids become successful.

See below for more information on this event, as well as tips on how parents can begin to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy anxiety.

 


 

We generally view anxiety as a bad thing, particularly when our children experience it—no one wants to think of their kids suffering or experiencing discomfort.

However, a little bit of anxiety can be helpful for both adults and children. It can be functional in that it can motivate us and help us achieve our goals.

But when anxiety becomes too extreme, starts to interfere with daily life and gets in the way of a child doing what he or she needs to do to achieve those goals, then the anxiety is unhelpful.

Here are a few ways to differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy anxiety in kids:

  • Your child expresses feeling anxious about a test he/she has in the morning as he/she starts to hit the books: This type of anxiety can be helpful in that it can help motivate your child to study.
  • Your child refuses to go to school on the day he/she has a difficult test or exam: This anxiety is unhealthy, as it’s preventing your child from following through on a task he/she needs to complete to excel.

 

  • Your child is anxious and a little scared about his/her first day of kindergarten and acts behaves sheepishly when you drop him/her off: This anxiety is healthy. Your child is facing a major change and separation from his/her parent, which can feel stressful. Both children and adults often have difficulty facing the unknown.
  • Your child cries a lot his/her first few weeks of kindergarten and/or is disruptive in class: This might be a sign of unhealthy anxiety. While the transition to kindergarten is a stressful one that may make a child feel anxious, being unable to adapt could be a sign of a larger issue.

 

 

  • Your child lists his concerns, anxieties and fears about going away to college and starts to problem-solve how he/she might cope with them: It’s healthy to talk through healthy anxieties about a transition as large as this one. In this case, your child’s anxiety will motivate him/her to develop healthy coping strategies.
  • Your child becomes preoccupied with “what if” scenarios that might occur when he/she moves away to college: This level of anxiety may be unhealthy. If your child is preoccupied with the “what if” question—a natural question during a time of transition—it might be getting in the way of the goals he/she has for the transition.

When a child’s anxiety gets in the way of the things he/she needs to do—things like learning, growing or transitioning— or prevents your child, teen or young adult from achieving goals, it could be a sign of a larger problem. Consider the help of a trained professional when anxiety begins interfering with a child’s day to day functioning, by affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and/or their willingness to try new things.


 

The Family Institute’s Child and Adolescent services offers support and effective treatment for anxiety in kids and teens. Visit our website to learn more.

To learn more about Straight A’s & Stressed, our next Circle of Knowledge Event that focuses on children and anxiety, visit our website and see below more information.

 

Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Presented by Danielle Black, PhD

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org

 

Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Posted on

Sick and tired of studyingFrom bitten nails and stomachaches to all-night study sessions, our kids display their anxiety in a variety of ways. However, not all anxiety is bad, and it can be difficult to know the difference between productive anxiety and anxiety that has become a problem.

On April 10th, The Family Institute will host a Circle of Knowledge event to address the issues facing parents as they learn to navigate their children’s anxieties. During this event, Dr. Danielle Black, Director of the Child & Adolescent program, will help parents differentiate between normal worry for our children, teenagers and young adults as they face the pressures of school, sports and socializing, and more severe anxiety symptoms that may be signs of a larger issue. She will also explore how anxiety can be turned into a positive thing that can help your kids become successful.

See the event details below, and visit our website to learn more or register for this event.

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org

Psychology & Sports: When is the pressure too much?

Posted on

Player and coachClose to 30 million kids currently participate in athletics, and the benefits of sports participation are plentiful. Studies show that athletes who have had positive experiences in sports report higher self-esteem, positive body image, decreased unwanted pregnancy, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, physical competencies, gender flexibility, opportunities for social developmental, mental toughness and resilience (Richman and Shaffer, 2000).

However, children’s involvement in sports can also pose difficulties, particularly because training schedules are becoming more demanding and competition is more serious. According to information provided by the Center for Kids First, children are reporting that they are enjoying their sports participation less. In addition, attrition rates for sports participation are rising — 70% of youth athletes quit before the age of 15. Many children stop playing their sport because too much pressure is placed on them by their parents and coaches. Some kids even report poor treatment by their coaches, like being yelled at, insulted or pressured to play with an injury.

Sports participation may also affect children’s mental and emotional health. A recent study by Maniar, Chamberlain and Moore (2005) suggests that student-athletes are more at-risk for mental health difficulties than non-athletes, such as alcohol abuse, social anxiety and depressive symptoms. Athletes also suffer from clinical depression at similar rates as non-athletes. It is possible that the new culture of athletics, which emphasizes toughness, fighting through pain, and not showing weakness, is responsible for negatively impacting children’s mental health.

Clearly, children’s involvement in sports activities impacts their lives and the lives of their families. How can parents help their children have positive athletic experiences? How can parents manage the role that sports play in the their family’s lives?

There are a few potential questions that parents and other caregivers can ask to help assess the impact sports are having on children’s well-being:

  • Are children suffering from a grueling schedule or high demands from coaches that affect the way they feel about themselves? While it may seem that this just part of “playing the game,” these are potential problems that are important to discuss with children.
  • Are the children physically healthy? This is also an essential consideration. While sports participation can increase physical fitness, middle school and high school athletes can be prone to injury before their young bodies reach full maturity.
  • If they have been injured, are the children ready to play again? Having to sit on the sidelines and watch your teammates play without you is difficult enough, but dealing with the pressure to come back from the injury can also be overwhelming for children. Many athletes feel they should just play through the pain — athletes are supposed to be tough, right? — and if they don’t play they may worry that they’ll lose their place on the team. It is important for kids to know that adequate rest and recuperation will be better for them in the long run.
  • Does the child have a specific goals for playing? Do he/she hope to someday become a professional athlete? Is he/she working toward a college scholarship? Or is he/she simply trying to have a good time, get a good workout, and spend time with friends? There’s no harm in supporting your child’s dream or aspiration, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his or her functioning or self-confident. Part of developing healthy self-esteem is working toward a goal, regardless of outcome.

As a parent, the best thing you can do is communicate openly with your child about his/her experiences. Is he/she feeling badly about a recent performance? Is he/she nervous about upcoming competitions? Does he/she seem tired or ambivalent about participating in the sport? These conversations are perfect opportunities for parents to discuss with their children how to balance all their commitments, as well as how to handle stress and nervousness in a way that’s productive rather than inhibitive. And if you do notice that your child is struggling, helps is always available.

 

This article comes from a Clinical Science Insight white paper by Family Institute affiliate Mary Cooley, MSMFT, LMFT. Visit our website to learn more about Mary and our affiliate staff.

The Family Institute’s child and adolescent services help these groups maximize their potential and overcome and cope with their challenges. We counsel parents and families to strengthen their cores and foster nurturing environments. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help.

 

5 Ways Cyber Bullying is Different than Face-to-Face Bullying

Posted on

Teenage Girl Being Bullied By Text Message On Mobile PhoneMuch has been said about cyber bullying, and how social media outlets have impacted the lives of teenagers. How do these new methods of bullying differ from their face-to-face counterparts? In what ways do the teenagers on the receiving end of these bullying experiences process the experiences?

Today’s insights on this topic come from Family Institute staff clinician Hollie Sobel, PhD, who runs a therapy group for adolescents.

 

While social media can serve to augment peer relationships in adolescence, it can also provide a forum for negative exchanges that can be quite hurtful. Teenagers can’t emotionally process these painful experiences in the same way they do their face-to-face equivalents. There aren’t the same opportunities to work it out online. Here a few of the ways in which cyber bulling differs from the bullying adolescents experience in school cafeterias or at parties:

  1. The victim can’t see the offender. In fact, sometimes the offender is anonymous, meaning that he/she could be anyone. There’s even the potential it could be someone whom the victim considers to be a friend which can increase fear, frustration and feelings of powerlessness.
  1. The victim can’t see his/her supporters. When bullying occurs online, the victim can’t see or feel the responses of people who may come to his/her aid, rendering that aid less resonant.
  1. The online environment is perfect for bullying. The quick pace and lack of personal contact involved in cyber bullying allows for more people to join in the taunting in active ways they may not do in person. At the same time, the wide pool of onlookers the Internet provides makes people less likely to step in, as they often assume someone else will defend the victim.
  1. Online content stays put. Negative statements made on-line are more pervasive than those made in person, with little escape, and can involve images and/or video that can be more invasive and permanent than face-to-face taunting.
  1. Teens often assume parents can’t help. Many teens think their parents or teachers will make the situation worse by bringing more attention to it. It’s important for parents to provide emotional support and continue to monitor their kids’ activities online—otherwise they may be unaware of the bullying.

 

Hollie Sobel, PhD, is a staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, where she has specialization in conducting diagnostic, psychoeducational, and personality testing batteries to primarily children/adolescents with a variety of psychiatric and medical diagnoses. She also sees families and individuals at the Institute’s downtown Chicago location. To learn more about Hollie Sobel, PhD, or to make an appointment, please visit our website.


 

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals. Learn more about our services on our website.

The Yellow Container: Partnering with your children to handle back-to-school stress

Posted on

It’s back-to-school time at TFI Talks, and to highlight this time of year our expert therapists are telling their own first-day-of-school stories, and at the same time providing insights into how families, parents and individuals can handle back-to-school stress.

Today’s story comes from Family Institute staff therapist Lisa Gordon, PhD. Lisa treats individuals, couples and families, and is a frequent presenter on parenting topics.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

schoolbus-81717_150When our oldest son was in first grade, he needed to start taking the bus to school for the first time.  My husband had previously driven him to school, and the short drive for father and son was a sweet way to start the morning. 

My son opposed taking the bus, as my husband’s plush car filled with Laurie Berkner tunes far outshone the yellow metal container resounding with boy boasts and body odor.  I decided to ask my son what he needed to make the bus ride to school more tolerable — how could I help him weather this new mode of transportation? — prepared for my son’s potential response of “Five dollars.  Five dollars per every bus ride would really bolster my ability to ride the bus.”

I still risked the question. My son replied, “It would really help me if you wrote me a note each morning, and I could read it on the bus ride to school.” 

So one written note each morning could simultaneously ease my son’s bus ride, practice his reading, and provide him with one extra dose of love and pride from his mother?  I felt like I had just tried on my thin jeans and they fit! 

This story reminds me that (1) our children often know what they need to reach for new skills and growth, and (2) parents don’t need to have all of the answers themselves; sometimes children can partner with us to navigate a challenge. 

 

To read Lisa Gordon’s full bio or make an appointment, visit our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health treatment for individuals, couples and families at our six Chicagoland locations. Learn more about us at our website.

%d bloggers like this: