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  • Writer's pictureDr. Niemeyer

SPACE: Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions

Every therapist is different. Some therapists who work with children prefer to do individual therapy with their clients. This means, if you are the parent, you will drop your child off for their appointment and sit in the waiting room throughout the session, hoping that the therapy is helping and wondering what they talk about behind those closed doors.

I am not that kind of therapist.

If your child is in therapy with me, you will be a part of the therapy too. How involved you are depends on your child’s needs, but you can be sure you will know what we are working on and how you can best support your child outside of therapy. I believe my job is to replace myself so that you no longer need me. In order to do that, I have to help change the family so that the parents and child know how to problem solve through issues when they arise.

I think that is why when I attended Dr. Eli Lebowitz’s SPACE training, it was an easy fit for me and makes a lot of intuitive sense. SPACE is a parenting program designed to help you, as the parent, learn how to best support your child with managing their anxiety. Dr. Lebowitz’s program helps you to walk that line between being supportive of your child’s struggles but still instilling confidence that they are strong and capable enough to confront their anxiety.

Imagine a situation where your child is afraid to participate in an extracurricular activity. Imagine she has told you over and over again that she wants to take ballet lessons. You sign her up, she picks out her outfit, she is excited to start….until the first day arrives and anxiety sets in. She refuses to go. What do you do? Should you push her to go? Or do you let this go because how important is ballet class, really?

And what if “ballet class” is just one example of many, many things your child feels too scared to do? Soon you find yourself not only supporting your child in avoiding things that make them anxious but also doing things FOR them to help keep their anxiety at bay. Suddenly you look around and wonder when your child’s anxiety starting making so many rules in your household and when will she “grow out of this phase?”

SPACE helps parents to change their own parenting style to help their child feel more confident and capable. We will set goals to slowly decrease the hold that anxiety has on the entire family system. By not “giving in” to anxiety, we can help your child feel braver and more able to manage his emotions on his own.

SPACE can be used in conjunction with your child’s own individual therapy or on its own as a parenting system. Some children do not feel ready to participate in therapy or are too young to really benefit from “talk therapy.” In this way, we can still help your child to have positive experiences that changes the way he sees himself and the world, without him even having to attend a session.

Please feel free to reach out to me to learn more about SPACE and whether it would be a good fit for your family. I typically do have a long waitlist for my clients, so in the meantime, check out the SPACE website to learn more about the program, watch videos of Dr. Lebowitz, or purchase a copy of the SPACE parenting book.

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