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Our creative team is always developing and discovering new tools and activities for children and teens to master the everyday emotional challenges of their lives. Check back often to see what's new and how you can help your child.

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May 25th, 2013


Be sure to read Fear of Finals Part 1. This will help you understand how to help your child now that it’s time to take the finals. Studying is finished and anxiety is growing because finals are so important. At the time of the test, young people have two jobs:

Job I – Taking the test
Job 2 – Fooling their body and mind to stay calm and keep their brain at
the highest level of functioning.

JOB 1 – This is the academic part.
•If young people attend class, complete homework and study, they are on a good path to good test performance.
•A good night’s sleep, a good breakfast and some mild exercise in the morning will help a brain perform well.

JOB 2 – This is the staying calm part
•Even though finals are important, when your child is actually taking the test, he or she must think of it as just another test not more important than any other test.
•Encourage kids to stay away from thinking about grades, passing, failing, getting into college or questions they don’t know the answer to. These are questions that are important, but should be addressed BEFORE STUDYING or AFTER THE TEST. Thinking about these issues DURING the test will flood the brain and body with stress hormones and make the child’s brain less efficient. The No More What If tool in the Outsmart Your Worry Toolkit for Kids is particularly helpful for this.
•Use calming techniques for breathing and muscle relaxation, such as those found in the Outsmart Your Worry Toolkit, specifically, Easy Does It Breathing and Let It Go. These techniques help to keep bodies calm.
•Self-Coaching techniques, such as silently saying, You’re doing fine, You’re OK, also help to keep brains calm.

Remember, calm brains perform better. You can help your child use thinking and behavior skills to outsmart test anxiety.

May 21st, 2013


It’s that time of year again. As the end of the year approaches, final exams grow closer and fears of finals start to grow. Test anxiety is a big problems for many youngsters and it often reaches it’s peak as young people study for these important tests.

Brains work best when bodies are calm. Calm bodies allow brains to concentrate better, process information well, problem solve effectively and retrieve information that is already learned. Important pathways in the brain stay open so that the benefits of studying can be used during the test.

Although a very small amount of anxiety actually helps performance by keeping the brain focused, this is unfortunately not what happens during test anxiety. Test anxiety floods the brain and body with stress hormones. The body is primed for a fight or flight response as opposed to doing well in an intellectual activity, such as taking a final. Concentration, information processing, problem solving and information retrieval all suffer as important brain pathways are closed by the anxiety response.

So how can a young person deal with test anxiety? First, worrying is fine, but only before studying, as fear is a good motivating force for studying. Once studying is begun, tell your child that being worried will actually hurt rather than help performance. Learning cognitive (thinking) and behavior skills to help stay calm during the test comes next. Read about these strategies in Fear of Finals – Part 2.

May 8th, 2013

Sports Anxiety in Children and Teens

It’s an exciting time for kids and families when outdoor school sports teams resume. Learning about sportsmanship, connecting with teammates, engaging in healthy competition, developing a lifelong love of sports and offering meaningful alternatives to video games and cell phones are just some of the benefits. What could be better? Not every kid feels this way. In fact, participating in sports can stir up anxieties and doubts in children. Here are a few scenarios:

•Your teen is a treasured member of a sports team. Everyone expects him or her to have an amazing season. Your kid feels mounting pressure and anxiety before each major game.
•Your middle school child is not on a sports team by his own choice. He feels left out at lunch and recess because he feels he has nothing to contribute and always has to make excuses why he’s not on a team.
•Your daughter had been told to drop a few pounds. She’s a good athlete but feels embarrassed about her weight. This affects her self-esteem.

Student athletes can be derailed by criticism from the other team, their own teammates, coaches as well as themselves. They need an effective plan to get back on track and stay focused. Confidence skills can do just that. Young athletes can also be thrown off base by negative What If’s which can break concentration and lead to panic. Anti-anxiety strategies can improve accurate thinking before and during a game.

Young athletes can learn how to maximize self-esteem and minimize anxious thoughts. It does take a bit of practice. Young athletes are used to that. Building emotional strengths along with athleticism is a winning combination. Read more about how to stay steady and strong during athletic competitions:
Turn Sore Sports Into Good Sports
March is Not Just About Basketball
Performance Anxiety in Kids