Calming Communities is a community program focused on reducing anxiety in children. The models below were integrated to develop a program that targets anxiety from all sides focusing on self regulation and parenting techniques.
This curriculum is designed to address anxiety within the ARC Model, The Attunetion Approach, and the Crucial Cs within Adlerian Therapy.
The ARC Model by Margaret Blaustein, Ph.D. and Kristine Kinniburgh, LICSW of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute is a framework for trauma informed treatment of children and teens. ARC stands for the three areas of focus, which are:
- Attachment – Which is addressed through attunement, consistent response, and routines and rituals.
- Regulation – Which is addressed through affect identification, affect modulation, and affect expression.
- Competency – Which is addressed through executive functioning and self-development and identity.
The Calming Communities program builds attachment through teaching empathy building skills; developing routines and rituals within the group; and teaching children how to read and look for consistent responses. In addition, the leader role models consistent response and attunement for the children. The leader uses attunement through role modeling attuned response; consistent response by using the same approaches and responses; and routines and rituals by having a repetitive session structure and development of self-care calendars and skills. Calming Communities addresses regulation through building skills for identifying emotions by increasing vocabulary; affect modulation by practicing mindfulness; and through developing a tool box of coping skills; and affect expression through sharing and literature. Finally, the group addresses competency through sharing; problem solving and brainstorming activities; learning new information; practicing skills; and identifying positive characteristics.
The Attunetion Approach by Dr. Craig Pierce of Southwest Family Guidance Center is a framework for trauma informed parenting that is based on the ARC model. The Attunetion Approach focuses on being attuned and responsive to children’s needs and wants. Under this model, connection is fostered by responding in ways that meet the following three requirements:
- The right thing – This focuses on what the child needs from the interaction, not on the adult’s emotions or instinctive reaction.
- At the right time – This focuses on whether the child is in a place to receive certain feedback, or whether the issue can be addressed at a later time.
- In the right way – This focuses on how the information is communicated both in verbal language and body language.
When these three requirements cannot be met (since we are all human) then it is important to repair the relationship as soon as possible. The model holds that perfection isn’t important, but that consistency and repair is enough for a child to build a connection.
The Calming Communities program uses this model in that it expects the leader to role model attuned responses and support that would be taught to a parent in the Attunetion Approach. The leader is also expected to role model and support children in learning to address each other this way, and learning to expect other adults to address them in this way. Children practice identifying their needs and ways to communicate those needs to adults in their life so the adults accommodate them.
The Crucial Cs by Betty Lou Bettner and Amy Lew are a concept of Adlerian Play Therapy. The Crucial Cs concept holds that children need to master the Crucial Cs in order to flourish. The Crucial Cs are:
- COURAGE: The willingness to engage in their lives fully and take risks. Having courage gives children hope and resilience. The opposite is feeling inferior and inadequate and avoiding challenges. These children often give up before attempting a task.
- CONNECT: The ability to build a mutually empowering relationship, feeling secure, being able to cooperate, and reach out to others to make friends. These kids believe they fit in or have a place to belong. The opposite is feeling isolated or insecure. These children often seek attention in negative ways.
- CAPABLE: This is about competency and the ability to take care of themselves. The need to feel self-control and self-discipline. These children are self-reliant and assume responsibility for their behavior. The opposite is feeling inadequate. They often compensate by trying to control others or being defiant. They often become dependent on adults or attempt to overpower others.
- COUNT: Children need to feel they are important and they matter in the world. They need to feel valuable and believe they matter. The opposite of this is feeling insignificant, which is very hurtful. These children react by trying to hurt others or themselves. They have poor self-esteem and often give up easily. Some try to intimidate others or act superior and overcompensate. Some children have a qualified sense of counting where they only count if they do x, y, and z.
The Calming Communities program builds courage by helping children to role play and share in a safe space where they will receive positive feedback for taking risks. The group fosters connection by including group work and building empathy. The program works on capability by increasing the children’s knowledge base; reframing defiant or avoidant behavior by reflecting their feelings; and identifying competency in skills and characteristics. Finally, Calming Communities works on counting by elevating the importance of every child’s experience; validating their experiences; and reinforcing their attempts to set boundaries with others.
If you would like more information on these models, please refer to the Resources Page. In addition, each model has a public webpage available describing more information. Links to these pages are on the Resources page.