Childhood Anxiety - Brave Chart!

A little self disclosure - we have an anxious child. As a therapist I used all the tools in my box, but very little seemed to be helping. We acknowledged his fears, we explained that it was ok, we asked him how we could help him over come his fears etc. As a parent I was feeling exhausted and defeated. That's when I stumbled upon the idea of a reward chart! (Guess I didn't use EVERYTHING in my tool kit!). 

The idea is simple - print out or create your own "I was brave" chart. Post it on the fridge or somewhere your child can see it daily and explain to them that every time they do something a little scary (like go upstairs by themselves) they get a star. At the end of the week if they have 5 stars, they get a reward. 

I like to keep the rewards pretty basic without too much focus on material objects. For my son we told him he could choose a special dinner one night, pick a movie for the family to watch or go somewhere special with a friend. You will want to find something that will be incentivizing for your child, but without putting too much emphasis on the reward itself. 

Throughout the process be sure to use phrases that encourage your child to feel proud of their actions. While "praise" language is fine, be sure to include phrases such as "YOU did it!" and "You're proud of yourself!" 

After a few weeks of using our brave chart my son has been sleeping in his own bed all night and many of his other anxieties have diminished. He's also been able to express himself more when an anxiety does pop up. And the best part? He's no longer keeping track. It's become second nature! 

Brave charts can be helpful for children with mild-moderate anxiety. If you believe your child has a more severe form of anxiety, I would recommend consulting with their therapist before implementing this technique. 

*to print, right click on the image and click save, then print from your computer

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