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The team of experienced professionals at Annie’s Centre have put together these Information and Tip Sheets for Parents and Professionals.

Parenting the Anxious Child

Encourage Courageous Behaviour

  • Deliberately pay extra attention to non-anxious (“brave”) behaviours. Find the behaviours where your child is confident and pay attention to them (e.g. I want to spend time watching you get into the pool all on your own because I know how well you can swim” OR “I’d love to spend time with you while you do your spelling practice because I know how hard you try to learn the words!”)
  • Reward “bravery” to help increase the likelihood of courageous behaviours. Try to work out “what is my child currently doing that is brave for them?” Then, reward and praise these existing brave behaviours. Be careful not to bribe the child. Rewards are for efforts e.g., hugs/ kisses/ praise/ special treat for efforts a child makes to be confident (e.g., you put so much effort into speaking in front of the class today during news time so I think we should go and get a milkshake on the way home to celebrate!”).
  • Use proportional rewards (not bribes). Reward in proportion to the degree of the brave behaviour.
  • Try and model brave behaviour – both parent and peers (e.g., if you are worried about being late for an activity talk through your own ways of coping in front of the child…”I’m worried about being late for the party so I’m going to have to take some deep breaths to help stay calm …can you help me do that. I’ll also need to think of some helpful thoughts to boss away my worries like, “We’ll be ok, it’s not the end of the world if we’re late”).
  • Encourage independence and reduce over-protective/ controlling parenting. Allow the child to make his/her own mistakes. Ask yourself, “if I did not help my child in this situation, what is the worst outcome that could occur?”. (Avoid questions like: “Do you want me to come with you?”, “Are you sure that’s what you want?”, “Will you be ok?”)
  • Reduce reassurance (gently play down anxiety, then ignore and/or re-direct the child) (e.g., “you don’t need my help to walk into the classroom with you, I’m too old for school now…you’ll do it better without me”). Speak confidently to the child.
  • Ensure that each parent has consistent expectations for the child (make sure you are all working on targeting the same brave and anxious behaviours at the same time.

Discipline for Anxious Children

  • Be calm and use self control – sometimes anxious children can be frustrating
  • Aggression from your child is not acceptable under any circumstances and should have immediate consequences e.g., time-out.
  • Look at your child’s motivation for avoiding a task -> is it disobedience or fear? Will they do it at other times or do they always try to avoid the task?


Bullying is: Abusive treatment using superior strength or influence to intimidate or hurt another.
Types of bullying:

  • Verbal – name calling, rudeness, teasing, threatening, defaming using social medias, rude or threatening letters
  • Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, tripping
  • Social – being excluded or ignored
  • Psychological – gestures, facial expressions, intimidation
  • Emotional – talking behind another´s back, spreading rumours or lies, causing another emotional pain

Bullying can be:

  • Direct – face to face OR
  • Indirect – social media (cyber bullying)

Interesting Statistics

  • One in every four students in Australian schools is affected by bullying (Australian Federal Government Research).
  • Children who are bullied are more likely to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and illness.

Signs your child may be being bullied (Do any of these apply to your child?):

  • Unexplained bruises, scratches or cuts
  • Damaged clothing
  • aged clothing
  • Damaged or missing possessions
  • If your child complains of feeling sick, e.g., frequent headaches, stomach aches and other pains that appear unexplainable
  • Unexplained sadness, e.g. tears or depression
  • Unusual outbursts of anger or aggression
  • Sudden or unexpected change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Aggression or nastiness to siblings
  • Not wanting to socialise with others
  • Sudden desire to change the way they travel to school
  • A decline in the quality or quantity of school work
  • School avoidance
  • Appears more scared than usual or has nightmares
  • Low self – esteem, e.g. putting him/herself down
  • Limited friendships
  • Appears more anxious than usual

If you marked a number of the above boxes, it is possible your child is being bullied. If so, it may be useful to seek further assistance from a health care professional. Please contact us at for further information about the support we can offer.

Parenting Tips

How to manage bullying

  • Reassure your child that it is not their fault.
  • Contact the school to raise your concerns.
  • Encourage your child to discuss the incidents and their feelings with you.
  • Teach your child assertiveness skills, e.g. standing up for themselves without being passive or aggressive.
  • Teach your child to respond appropriately, e.g. to walk away, ignore the bully, to seek help from a teacher.
  • Teach your child social skills that will help them avoid bullying, such as acting casually when teased.
  • Teach your child problem solving skills so they are independently able to resolve difficulties.
  • Teach your child coping skills such as positive self-talk so they are able to better build resilience.
  • Listen to your child.
  • Empathise with your child, e.g. I understand you must be feeling upset.
  • Avoid criticising your child so they feel safe talking to you about the bullying.
  • Help them access more information for support such as:

How Does Communication Develop in Children?

What to expect from 6 months to 2 years

All babies and young children develop at different rates. The following are some general guidelines to help you identify when to be concerned about your child’s development. If you think your child has difficulty with the following steps of development please contact us at
At six months does your baby:

  • Often look around for speakers?
  • Follow a moving object with her eyes?
  • Copy the sounds that you make when you talk to her?
  • Make babbling sounds with a consonant and a vowel (e.g. ‘pa’ or ‘goo’).
  • Make any sounds apart from crying.

At nine months does your baby:

  • Recognize his name or those of close family members?
  • Makes sounds to people as if he wants to talk to them?
  • Use strings of babble like ‘mama mama’, ‘baba baba’?
  • Enjoy intereactive games like ‘Peek-a-boo’?
  • Show interest in noise-making toys?

At twelve months does your baby:

  • Look around for familiar objects, such as her hat, when she hears you talk about them?
  • Turn towards a speaker when her name is called?
  • Use lots of tuneful babble?
  • Initiate games like ‘patacake’?
  • Follows your finger as you point?

At sixteen months does your baby:

  • Take turns with you in making sounds to each other?
  • Respond by looking in the right direction to questions like ‘Where’s your hat?’
  • Babble with lots of different sounds so it sounds like he is talking?
  • Show interest in starting lots of games with you like ‘patacake’?
  • Maintain his attention on one thing for a few seconds?

At twenty months does your baby:

  • Use any single words?
  • Understand and follow directions like ‘your shoes are in the kitchen’.
  • Want lots of attention from you and want you to play with her?
  • Often look around to see where sounds are coming from?

Communication Risk Factors

The following risk factors may affect a child’s ability to learn language and/or speech.

  • A poor model of speech from others within the child’s environment.
  • Parents and significant others using long and complicated sentences which the child cannot understand and is unable to imitate.
  • Lots of competing noise and distractions from television, radio or other children.
  • Little motivation to speak due to others talking for him/her and others predicting his/her needs and and wants.
  • History of birth trauma or prematurity (low birth weight).
  • Extra quiet or irritable baby.
  • Delayed motor milestones
  • History of feeding problems such as poor sucking or chewing.
  • Family history of speech/language problems.
  • History of ear infections.
  • Home environment is bilingual or lacking in stimulation.
  • Frequent hospitalization.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Poor coordination (poor motor skills, poor motor planning)

What are the Early Warning Signs of a Communication or Language Difficulty?

A child with a language problem may have difficulty with:

  • Following instructions;
  • Attending, listening and concentrating;
  • Social skills;
  • Answering questions;
  • Asking questions;
  • Learning new vocabulary;
  • Sequencing words and ideas;
  • Problem solving

Tips to Develop Your Child’s Language and Communication Skills

  1. Encourage them to listen to:
    • music
    • noises
    • sounds in the environment
    • familiar voices on the phone
  2. Talk with your child about what they are doing and about every day activities. Describe your observations using detailed descriptions of their behaviourE.g., 1. “Wow, you are painting a flower using the long paint brush and the yellow paint. You are making the brush go up and down on the page” etc
    E.g., 2. While you wash up, name all the objects in the sink. Describe their shape, colour and size. Talk about what they are used for.
  3. Read stories, sing songs and watch TV with your children and then talk about what happened in the program.
  4. Talk slowly and clearly with your child. Try to match your language level to your child’s skills. This will help develop their comprehension skills. Your child will also feel encouraged to try and copy what you are saying.
  5. Model good listening to your children and showing them that talking and listening are enjoyable by:
    • making eye contact with them when you speak
    • stopping what you are doing and listening to what they say
    • adding additional comments and information to keep the conversation going
  6. Encourage conversational turn taking with the whole family. This will ensure that everyone has a turn and will develop your child’s communication confidence.
  7. Encourage contact with other children. This will give your child the opportunity to extend their language and play skills

What are the Early Warning Signs of a Motor Development Difficulty?

It is important to remember that children all develop at their own speed.
However here are some signs that might indicate a sensory processing or physical development delay:

  • Bumps into things/people frequently
  • Unable to sit and focus on an activity for adequate amounts of time
  • Likes to spin or play on outside equipment more than other children
  • Has a strong need to touch others or be touched
  • Seems to avoid using hands
  • Avoids some clothes or food textures
  • Appears to run or walk in an clumsy or awkward way
  • Slumps or sits with poor posture
  • Has poor ball skills
  • Appears to have difficulty grasping items
  • Has difficulty using scissors or paintbrush/pencil
  • Appears to have a difficulty with handwriting/written tasks
  • Seems to avoid crossing the midline
  • Avoids assisting in dressing
  • Appears to have difficulty feeding himself/herself

Tips for Developing your Child’s Motor Skills

  • Give your child toys that are made with various material, make sounds, move to stimulate sensory systems
  • Take your child to the park and play on the swing and slide to also stimulate sensory systems
  • Messy play such as finger-painting, playing with goo, playing in the sandpit, water play with bubbles to also stimulate sensory systems
  • Playing with toys on the floor (lying on back and stomach) to strengthen core stability muscles
  • Lots of outdoor play such as playing with the ball, bike riding, trampoline, running, skipping to help develop gross motor skills
  • Table top activities such as play dough, drawing, construction activities, cutting to help develop fine motor skills
  • Alphabet games and colouring in to help develop pre-writing skills
  • Puzzles to help develop visual perception
  • Quiet activities to promote attention and concentration

Just about any game or activity you play with your child from an early age and throughout childhood is beneficial and help promote skills!!

Annie’s Centre Children’s Books

Wally The Worried Wallaby in Dog Gone Trouble.

The focus of the book is on building resilience and reducing anxiety in both preschool and primary school age children. Join Wally, Carli, the Confident Koala and Neffy, the dog, as they overcome Wally’s worries. Children will love the cartoon–like illustrations!The book aims to teach anxious children and their parents some skills to manage their worries. It also aims to teach parents how to prevent anxiety from developing in their children.
Parents don’t miss out! Dr Anne Chalfant has written a separate Parent Guide to accompany Wally’s story.
The guide includes 10 activities for parents to complete with their child to teach bravery and resilience and to conquer fears and worries.

The value of the book is that it combines clinical expertise and evidence based strategies with a fun and easy to read story-line.

Dr Anne Chalfant, Director Annie’s Centre.

The book and the parent guide are available from Annie’s Centre for $25.00 (plus GST) + Postage and Handling.
Please contact us at to purchase this fantastic resource.

Dr Chalfant´s latest book “Managing Anxiety in People with Autism: A Treatment Guide for Parents, Teachers and Mental Health Professionals”. Published by Woodbine House, USA.


Anxiety is one of the biggest challenges facing people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families. They can experience anxiety in all areas of their lives – school, family, and social life– and it compounds the difficulties they already may have with communicating, interacting socially, and controlling their emotions. Managing Anxiety in People with Autism is one of the first books to provide practical information about dealing with anxiety in people with ASD.
Drawing on her experience diagnosing and treating anxiety in people with ASD at the treatment centre she founded in Sydney, Australia, Dr. Chalfant provides clear, understandable explanations of the different types of anxiety disorders, how they affect people across the autism spectrum, and what interventions can help. The book teaches parents:

  • to know how and why their child is prone to anxiety
  • to understand their role in their child’s anxious behaviour
  • to recognize and respond to anxious behaviour appropriately

Case studies and research findings help to illustrate the author’s points and clarify the causes and symptoms of anxious behaviour.
Managing Anxiety explains a range of different types of strategies that can help manage and treat anxiety in school, home, and clinical settings and takes into consideration the different roles people play in a child’s or adult’s life: parent, sibling, teacher, health care provider. Readers learn about ways to modify behaviour and/or the environment to indirectly reduce anxiety, as well as interventions, such as medication or psychotherapy, which deal with symptoms directly. The discussion of more formal interventions– psychotherapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and medication – show how these methods can target specific anxieties. Because anxiety is generally more common in parents and siblings of a child with ASD, the author also offers ways they too can reduce their symptoms.
Dr Chalfant’s book has received excellent reviews both in Australia and Internationally. It was a finalist in the International Book Awards!

“Professionals and parents working with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are aware of the huge role that anxiety plays in their lives. Unfortunately, programs developed to reduce anxiety in typical people are not effective with this population. This book addresses this problem thoughtfully, comprehensively, and practically. It presents psychological wisdom for understanding anxiety in ASD and effective practical treatment approaches. It does this in a sophisticated way but with language and concepts that are understandable by parents and professionals. This book has a thorough, detailed, and conceptually clear explanation of what anxiety in ASD is, how it is experienced by people with ASD, and why it is so prevalent. It then goes on to offer a range of strategies with clear explanations and multiple examples to guide those interested in creating effective and productive interventions. This book represents a major advance in our ability to help people with ASD to confront one of their major difficulties and should be widely read and frequently used.”

Review by Gary B. Mesibov, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The book is available from Annie’s Centre for $30.00 (plus GST) + Postage and Handling.
Please contact us at to purchase this internationally acclaimed book.

Cool Kids© Child Anxiety Program: Autism Spectrum Disorder Adaptation is now available!

Annie´s Centre, in conjunction with Macquarie University has published the FIRST, Anxiety Treatment Program for Children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s! This publication is the first of its kind both in Australia and internationally! The program is based on research that Dr Chalfant conducted and published internationally in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The program is designed for use by clinicians and therapists. You will be able to use the program for either individual support or group intervention programs with children. A comprehensive clinician´s manual is provided. Separate handbooks for children and parents are also provided. The handbooks include copies of handouts, homework tasks and related visual supports and materials.
The focus of the program is on children with Autism who have low support needs. However, components of the program can be easily adapted to those children who have high support needs or more moderate Autism. Please contact us at to register your interest in accessing the program.
Therapist Kit (Therapist Manual, Parent Workbook & Child Workbook) $65.00 + Postage and Handling
Workbook Sets (Parent Workbook & Child Workbook) $35.00 per set / $315.00 per 10 sets + Postage and Handling