Anxiety and Children

We’re thrilled to share a blog post written by our Clinical Child Psychologist, Marie-Eve Dubois. Dr. Dubois is bilingual, helping children and families in both English and French at our Burlington therapy center. This post will also be featured on our blog in French!

As a psychologist working only with children, adolescents and their families, one of the most frequent concerns parents seek my help for their child is anxiety.

According to Statistics Canada, 6.4% of children under the age of 15 suffer from an anxiety disorder, making anxiety the most common mental health problem in children and adolescents. Anxiety can take many forms: specific phobias (e.g. dogs, dentist, etc.), separation anxiety (i. e. Becoming extremely anxious when separation from the parent occurs, such as when leaving the child at daycare), panic attacks, social phobia, selective mutism and generalized anxiety disorder.

Exposure Treatment

One of the most important aspects in the treatment of anxiety disorders is what we call ‘exposure’. This gradual process helps the child experience anxiety-provoking situations once he or she has learned coping strategies. This helps work around avoidance, which only serves to increase anxiety in the long term. For example, let’s think about a child who is afraid of dogs after having been bit. Parents stop visiting friends and family members who have dogs in order to avoid having to deal with a meltdown. When taking a walk in their neighbourhood, they change sidewalks when seeing a dog approaching. Soon enough, the child has learned that dogs must be REALLY dangerous if mom and dad make sure I don’t ever encounter one. In this case, exposure would consist of possibly looking at pictures of dogs, then petting a stuffed animal representing a dog, to slowly approaching dogs more and more. The key here is to remain in the situation until the child has calmed down and not to remove the child from the situation (that would be avoidance again).

Despite this being the most effective treatment for anxiety, a recent study published in Canadian Psychology has showed that this technique is underutilized in the Ontario public system, given the low numbers of practitioners with an expertise in providing this type of treatment. When seeking treatment for your child, here are some of the key things you should look for:

  • The professional you are working with should do a thorough interview to better understand the situation.
  • This will typically lead to what we call psychoeducation, or teaching you and your child about anxiety and how we can best help you.
  • Treatment will then consist of relaxation and other coping strategies, followed by exposure, either at home or in clinic.

It is also recommended that parents be involved in the treatment of their child to learn techniques and support their child so that they can benefit most from treatment and make anxiety a thing of the past! At Canoe, we’re committed to working with both children and their parents, creating a complete therapy treatment plan that works at the clinic and at home.

Speech Therapy & Literacy

This post was written by Nancianne Chin.

Most of us are familiar with Speech-Language Pathologists (S-LP’s) as professionals who teach children how to pronounce that ‘r’ sound, or help late talkers begin talking. Did you know that S-LPs help children with reading skills too?

S-LPs have received extensive training in sound awareness, which means they can help children learn to rhyme, count beats in words, blend sounds, and connect letters with the sounds those letters make. They also help support story comprehension, retelling of stories, coming up with language to describe pictures, and identifying the main components of a story. The tools and methods used by SL-Ps are in line with research from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, which determined the best way to teach children to read.

Summer is the perfect time for your child to work on their literacy skills to ensure that they are ready for the new school year. The S-LPs at Canoe Therapy are excited to offer intensive 1-week groups this summer for kids in JK-grade 1 where they’ll practice and improve their reading comprehension skills in a fun, exciting environment! Groups are 2 hours per day for 5 days and run Monday-Friday over select weeks this coming July and August.

Contact Us

If you are interested in signing up for or have any questions about our summer programs or any of our other therapies, please contact our Burlington clinic. Our team of speech pathologists is dedicated and passionate about helping children grow and succeed. Our comprehensive approach ensures that your child will receive the best treatment possible.