Overcoming Anxiety in Children & Teens
written by Jed Baker, Ph.D.
The book kicks off explaining why some people are more anxious than others and the factors that affect anxiety; genetics and early temperamental differences, thinking style, environmental stress, and parenting style. Dr. Baker writes in a highly digestible style, being clear and to the point. This is great for parents who are searching for clues and don’t want a lot of fluff. He sets it up immediately that the parents and the child/teen are a team and interconnected.
Next he explores research and practices. Many of us with teenagers on the spectrum that have anxiety are familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT) and he dives right in to this favored choice, as well as neurobiological treatments, reduction of environmental stressors, and treatment in real practice. For those of you tempted to skip ahead to the “How To” portion, take a breath and read these chapters. They are the foundation behind the tools that he teaches in later chapters.
The meat of the book contains Dr. Bakers lessons on motivating change. These are great to read and then go over with your child or teen. While my son wasn’t thrilled to talk about false alarms and learning to accept anxiety, it did give us a starting point and I was equipped with more tools to help him and ultimately him to help himself.
The tools that I speak of include identifying fears and creating a fear ladder. The cool thing is this concept is introduced and then examples are given through the remainder of the book using examples of different types of anxieties and fears and then how each study case worked through it. It takes a bit of creative thinking to work through the steps with your child or teen and would benefit from help from a professional therapists, but I found it to be an exercise my son and I could do together. Themes covered include phobias, social anxiety, selective mutism, separation anxiety and a big one school refusal, panic disorder, OCD, and more.
I was happy that Dr. Baker incorporated mindfulness and technology into his lessons as we live in a very tech savvy world. My son is responding well to the meditation apps he recommends and I’ve read the meditations listed in his book (there are 4 scripts included).
Other topics touched upon are Somatic Sympton Disorder and Illness Anxiety Disorder, and a particularly helpful (for me!) chapter on Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The book really puts a face and a realness to each disorder and aides in both understanding of the problem and ways to work with the disorder. I found the universality of the common fears and aggression relatable. For example, how unexpected changes in routine can set our kids off. I think we have all dealt with that as parents of kids either on the autism spectrum or with anxiety disorders and even sensory processing issues.
I found that this book is an excellent resource in giving parents, caregivers, and teachers an understanding on not only what is going on in these kids minds, but how to work with their anxiety and help them to be functioning at their optimum level. This is a go to resource for when your child or teen is stuck on something such as panic attacks before school and how to move past them and have a good morning.
This is a guide that works best when the parent and child/teen work together. It’s not a band-aide, easy fix type of book, but more of a lifestyle that you can develop over time to reduce anxiety and live with the anxiety that won’t go away.
Overcoming Anxiety in Children & Teens by Jed Baker, Ph.D is available through Future Horizons. Please find Jed Baker’s other titles below.
No More Meltdowns, Preparing for Life, Social Skills Training, and The Social Skills Picture Book.
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