Think back to when you were a child – sometimes the world was a big, scary place. Kids have to constantly adapt to new routines, news schools, and new activities. Things like having a substitute teacher or visiting the doctor can bring out anxiety in children, as can instituting a new household routine or teaching a new behavior skill.
But, what if there was a way for your child to experience a new scenario in a safe, nurturing way so they could reduce their anxiety before they ever physically took part in the activity? This is where computer apps can really shine. Specially designed apps provide a high-tech solution for conquering fears – by exposing kids to new situations in a fun way, on a powerful and engaging game-like platform that children can easily relate to.
How Can an App Help My Child?
The Children’s Center’s innovative Giant Leap app is great example of an emotional support tool that gives kids control over their fears. The app comes preloaded with animated exposure stories that can be used in a variety of scenarios, such as:
• Addressing the child’s concerns before a visit to the doctor or the dentist
• Calming their separation anxiety when staying home with a babysitter
• Helping to reduce school anxiety
These stories are used to meet your child’s unique needs. For example, one child may worry about an upcoming medical procedure, such as getting an MRI, while another might be apprehensive about classroom interaction in school. Both kids could lessen or conquer their fears by watching exposure stories on the app.
Virtual exposure stories gradually introduce the child to the new situation so they know what to expect from the upcoming experience. Apps also allow the child to view the story as often as needed to help them become more comfortable with the situation over time.
Our Giant Leap app can be personalized to each child – in avatar appearance, as well as in animated exposure stories:
• Parents create an avatar that can be configured to match the child’s hair color, hair style, and skin tone, using an image of the child.
• Each story is customizable to the child. Using a personalized avatar within the story visually connects the child to the experience they are watching, which gives it more impact.
• The ability to add videos and exposure stories from the library allows the child to view a wide range of scenarios to help them gradually reduce and overcome their anxiety about new situations.
Additionally, apps like Giant Leap can be used to manage behaviors and teach your child emotional regulation techniques. Flexible charts within the app help guide and encourage independence. They can also motivate positive behavior through reward systems.
How Effective Are These Child Development Tools?
Studies are showing that being virtually exposed to an anxiety-inducing situation via an app amplifies the areas of the brain related to attention and control.
Animated stories like the ones provided on the Giant Leap app gradually takes the child – via their personalized avatar – through the scenario they are worried about (for example: visiting the dentist). Kids work through the situation one scene at a time, at their own pace and in a safe environment, until they are ready to move forward to the next scene on their own. These meaningful, close-to-life stories also offer immediate feedback, which greatly enhances the child’s ability to cope under stress.
Through repeated exposure to a fear-inducing experience, the child becomes desensitized to the factors that cause their anxiety. The result is that children report having less anxiety when faced with real-life issues.
Learn More about Our Giant Leap App
For more information about how our Giant Leap app can be an effective part of teaching children life skills and independence, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.