Stop Think Do

Specific application - Anxiety disorder

  • Some children exhibit excessive worry like separation anxiety, panic attack, phobic reactions, social anxiety, or performance anxiety directly effecting learning and relating.

  • These children tend to be stuck at STOP or THINK; they feel too intensely and they think too much about what could happen that their ability to DO anything to cope is inhibited

  • To manage anxiety, the initial step at STOP is for the anxious child to gain information about the specific nature of their 'worry problem', the physiological signs and associated feelings, rather than the often illusive cause

  • Anxiety is depersonalized when the child understands that the physiological signs (eg. nausea, shaking, tight chest, feeling yucky) are intense, but normal fight or flight reactions caused by the rapid flow of blood from the extremities to the torso to energize the body

  • Essentially, the child needs to learn to use their stronger brain to THINK about ways to control these physiological reactions and make themself feel better again

  • There are many tricks the child can choose to DO to 'shift the blood back to the brain, hands, and toes to beat 'the worry problem'; then they can relax, learn and cope better

STOP THINK DO plan for managing anxiety

STOPAs soon as a child starts to feel uncomfortable, he or she is to
STOP and identify the physiological signs
Shaking, stomachache, sweating, dizziness, nausea or just feeling yucky
Identify the feelings
Shaking (or whatever sign) means that the worry feeling is starting
THINKTHINK positive self-talk
'I can use my good brains and my tricks to beat the worry feeling'
Self-talk may be enough to feel better, or move on to
DOChoose anti-worry tricks to DO
'Squeezing' trick
Squeeze something tightly in your hands and toes in your shoes; let go slowly
'Staring' trick
Find something around you and stare intently at it, silently describing it in detail
'Deep breathing' trick
'Go and do something else you like' trick
If a trick doesn't work first, keep practicing or THINK of another one!
Adults remind child to use tricks rather than trying to offer emotional reassurance