Anxious to Brave: On Online Course for Parents of Children and Teens With Anxiety

Children with anxiety have everything they need inside them to light up the world, but too often anxiety will tell them a different story. We know they are capable, brave, strong, and that anxiety doesn’t change that a bit. The challenge is to help them realise it too.

Research has shown that with the right support, information, and strategies, parents and carers have a profound capacity to move children and teens towards brave behaviour and strengthen them towards long-term courage, calm, and resilience. The move through anxiety isn’t an easy one, for children or the adults who love them, but it is absolutely possible. As part of this program, we will explore how.

This in-depth program will provide parents with research-backed information and strategies to strengthen children and teens against anxiety in the moment and for the long term. We will discuss the what and why of anxiety and how to open up a world for your child or teen where anxiety stops getting in their way, and brave behaviour becomes possible.

‘Anxious to Brave’ will also provide parents and carers with ways to support children and teens through big feelings (including anxiety, anger, meltdowns) and the range of behaviour that can be fuelled by those big feelings (including at school, bedtime, when faced with a challenge, or more generally). We will also discuss ways to empower children and teens with an understanding of their brain and body that helps make sense of feelings and behaviour, and opens up new ways to respond.

The ‘Anxious to Brave’ program consists of six online modules plus ‘mini videos’, totalling over 7 hours of content. Participants will receive workbooks which are included as part of the course. Access to the course will be available for 6 months from purchase. As part of the course, we will explore:

  • Module 1:
    • Turning anxiety into an ally. How, and why it’s so important.
    • Using neuroscience to take the anxiety out of the anxiety.
    • The single worst thing for anxiety (that every loving parent has likely done at least one or hundreds of times!).
    • When anxiety fuels behaviour. How to respond, and why we need to rethink the old responses.
    • Why parents are key to strengthening young people against anxiety.
  • Module 2:
    • How behaviours are built in the brain.
    • Why old responses die hard and why new ones take time.
    • Parents don’t cause anxiety, but here’s why you’re a powerful part of the solution.
    • The responses (that all loving parents will do) that will inadvertently increase anxiety – why, and what to do instead.
    • A proven way for parents to increase brave behaviour in children – making a step-by-step plan.
    • When their anxiety becomes yours.
  • Module 3:
    • How the brain registers threat or safety – and what they need from you.
    • The house model of regulation – how our nervous systems influence each other, and how you can use yours to bring calm to theirs.
    • Practical strategies to build their capacity for calm, courage, and resilience.
    • How to respond in the moment when anxiety hits in a way that helps build calm, connection, and maximises your influence and their capacity for brave behaviour.
    • Co-regulation or co-dysregulation?
    • Dealing with anxiety fuelled behaviour – during the storm, after the storm.
    • Separation anxiety – practical examples and strategies to build brave.
    • School anxiety and how to build their attachment village.
  • Module 4:
    • Anxiety – 4 Responses. Which one when.
    • Building their Toolbox. The practical strategies for young people that will build calm, courage, and resilience.
    • Making the move towards brave behaviour – the practical plan that won’t depend on their response or their willingness to engage;
  • Module 5:
    • The different ways your child might respond when their anxiety is big, and how to respond.
    • Managing their reaction – the key strategies.
    • When their reaction is especially big.
    • The most important rule.
  • Module 6:
    • Proven strategies to strengthen against anxiety in the long-term.
    • Practical strategies to reduce anxiety at bedtime and ensure a restful sleep – for everyone.
  • ‘Stronger Than Anxiety’
    • This is a video for children and teens to watch on their own or with you. It will introduce the language and concepts we’ve been discussing to make sure they feel as ready as possible to make the move towards brave. This module includes 20-page workbook, ‘Calming Your Amygdala’. In this module, we will explore:
      • Why anxiety feels the way it does.
      • Why anxiety always comes with courage.
      • A way to think about anxiety that will help soften its impact.
      • How to feel braver, stronger, and more powerful when you need to.
      • How to calm anxiety.
      • The connection between anxiety and your ‘thinking brain’ – and how to switch your thinking brain on.
      • The things that will help anxiety in the moment and in the long term.

NOTE: This course includes ‘Stronger Than Anxiety’, a module specifically for young people to help them discover their own brave way through anxiety. A workbook is included. 

This course is intended to offer meaningful and impactful support to parents of children with anxiety. It is not therapy, nor is it intended to replace any therapy you or your child might currently be involved in. If your child is currently working with a therapist, please feel free to discuss anything you learn here with the therapist to ensure consistency of pacing, approach, and goals and timing.

Price: AUD $207.23
Developed and presented by: Karen Young
Location: On-Demand Course
Includes: Videos (7+ hours) + Workbooks

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Our job as parents isn’t to remove their distress around boundaries, but to give them the experiences to recognise they can handle boundaries - holding theirs and respecting the boundaries others. 

Every time we hold a boundary, we are giving our kids the precious opportunity to learn how to hold their own.

If we don’t have boundaries, the risk is that our children won’t either. We can talk all we want about the importance of boundaries, but if we don’t show them, how can they learn? Inadvertently, by avoiding boundary collisions with them, we are teaching them to avoid conflict at all costs. 

In practice, this might look like learning to put themselves, their needs, and their feelings away for the sake of peace. Alternatively, they might feel the need to control other people and situations even more. If they haven’t had the experience of surviving a collision of needs or wants, and feeling loved and accepted through that, conflicting needs will feel scary and intolerable.

Similarly, if we hold our boundaries too harshly and meet their boundary collisions with shame, yelling, punishment or harsh consequences, this is how we’re teaching them to respond to disagreement, or diverse needs and wants. We’re teaching them to yell, fight dirty, punish, or overbear those who disagree. 

They might also go the other way. If boundaries are associated with feeling shamed, lonely, ‘bad’, they might instead surrender boundaries and again put themselves away to preserve the relationship and the comfort of others. This is because any boundary they hold might feel too much, too cruel, or too rejecting, so ‘no boundary’ will be the safest option. 

If we want our children to hold their boundaries respectfully and kindly, and with strength, we will have to go first.

It’s easy to think there are only two options. Either:
- We focus on the boundary at the expense of the relationship and staying connected to them.
- We focus on the connection at the expense of the boundary. 

But there is a third option, and that is to do both - at the same time. We hold the boundary, while at the same time we attend to the relationship. We hold the boundary, but with warmth.♥️
Sometimes finding the right words is hard. When their words are angry and out of control, it’s because that’s how they feel. 

Eventually we want to grow them into people who can feel all their feelings and lasso them into words that won’t break people, but this will take time.

In the meantime, they’ll need us to model the words and hold the boundaries firmly and lovingly. This might sound like:

‘It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay not to like my decision. It’s not okay to speak to me like that. I know you know that. My answer is still no.’

Then, when they’re back to calm, have the conversation: 

‘I wonder if sometimes when you say you don’t like me, what you really mean is that you don’t like what I’ve done. It’s okay to be angry at me. It’s okay to tell me you’re angry at me. It’s not okay to be disrespectful.

What’s important is that you don’t let what someone has done turn you into someone you’re not. You’re such a great kid. You’re fun, funny, kind, honest, respectful. I know you know that yelling mean things isn’t okay. What might be a better way to tell me that you’re angry, or annoyed at what I’ve said?’♥️
We humans feel safest when we know where the edges are. Without boundaries it can feel like walking along the edge of a mountain without guard rails.

Boundaries must come with two things - love and leadership. They shouldn’t feel hollow, and they don’t need to feel like brick walls. They can be held firmly and lovingly.

Boundaries without the ‘loving’ will feel shaming, lonely, harsh. Understandably children will want to shield from this. This ‘shielding’ looks like keeping their messes from us. We drive them into the secretive and the forbidden because we squander precious opportunities to guide them.

Harsh consequences don’t teach them to avoid bad decisions. They teach them to avoid us.

They need both: boundaries, held lovingly.

First, decide on the boundary. Boundaries aren’t about what we want them to do. We can’t control that. Boundaries are about what we’ll do when the rules are broken.

If the rule is, ‘Be respectful’ - they’re in charge of what they do, you’re in charge of the boundary.

Attend to boundaries AND relationship. ‘It’s okay to be angry at me. (Rel’ship) No, I won’t let you speak to me like that. (Boundary). I want to hear what you have to say. (R). I won’t listen while you’re speaking like that. (B). I’m  going to wait until you can speak in a way I can hear. I’m right here. (R).

If the ‘leadership’ part is hard, think about what boundaries meant for you when you were young. If they felt cruel or shaming, it’s understandable that that’s how boundaries feel for you now. You don’t have to do boundaries the way your parents did. Don’t get rid of the boundary. Add in a loving way to hold them.

If the ‘loving’ part is hard, and if their behaviour enrages you, what was it like for you when you had big feelings as a child? If nobody supported you through feelings or behaviour, it’s understandable that their big feelings and behaviour will drive anger in you.

Anger exists as a shield for other more vulnerable feelings. What might your anger be shielding - loneliness? Anxiety? Feeling unseen? See through the behaviour to the need or feeling behind it: This is a great kid who is struggling right now. Reject the behaviour, support the child.♥️
Can’t wait to see you Brisbane! Saturday 20 May had bounded up to us with its arms open - and we’re so ready.

If you don’t have a ticket and would give your very last lamington for one, don’t worry - tickets are still available from ‘Resilient Kids Conference’ (on google). Here are the details:
Date and Time: Sat 20th May

Time: 9.30am – 3:00pm (Doors open at 9.00am for a 9.30am start)

Location: Main Auditorium, iSee Church, 8 Ellen Street, Carina Qld 4152

Parking: Free parking onsite

Cost: $85.00 AUD 

We’d love you to join us.♥️

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