You cut your evening short because your child won’t fall asleep without you in bed with them.
You order for your adolescent at a restaurant when they turn away from the server.
You tie your child’s shoes every morning because they claim they “can’t do it right.”
You often cancel plans to attend events as a family because your teen feels uncomfortable in new places.
Do any of those sound familiar to you? If so, you may be stuck in unhealthy patterns due to child or adolescent anxiety and parental accommodation.
It is common for parents and caregivers who are stuck in these patterns to feel overwhelmed with what may appear to be child misbehavior. The truth is, no one is to blame and everyone is responsible for making changes to get unstuck and move forward in healthier ways.
A therapeutic intervention used for getting unstuck is called SPACE: Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions. SPACE treatment may be helpful to your family if you find yourself changing plans or noticing that your child’s anxiety interferes with day to day functioning. From www.spacetreatment.net:
SPACE is a parent-based program for children and adolescents with anxiety, OCD, and related disorders.” It is also appropriate for concerns such as separation anxiety, social anxiety, fears and phobias, and selective mutism. SPACE Treatment is unique in that, although the interventions are intended to treat the child’s anxiety, the adults are the ones attending therapy sessions, gaining new tools, and making strategic changes to their own behaviors.
When parents accommodate anxiety to help their child (or themselves) feel better in the moment, it actually upholds the symptoms and increases anxiety over time. SPACE is a collaborative process between the therapist and caregiver with the basic recipe of learning: 1. To respond more supportively to your anxious child, and 2. To reduce the accommodations you have been making for the child’s symptoms. Caregivers who participate in the SPACE treatment protocol report increased family satisfaction, decreased anxiety in the household, and increased confidence in both child and parent.
For more information about the SPACE treatment protocol, check out this video:
At Sentier, Sarah Souder Johnson, MEd, LPCC is available to deliver SPACE to families who are eager to reduce the systemic effects of anxiety in their household.