The Supportive Parenting of Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) Program is a short-term, evidence-based program developed by Dr. Eli Lebowitz and the team at the Yale Child Study Center designed to treat children who are experiencing significant anxiety by working with their parents in a structured manner leading to increased parental support and decreased family accommodation of the child’s anxiety.
Parents learn how to alleviate their child’s anxiety by changing the way they themselves respond to their child’s symptoms. Notably, parents are not required to impose changes on their child’s behavior. Rather, parents are taught how to replace their own accommodating behaviors of the child’s anxious symptoms with supportive responses that demonstrate acceptance of their child’s difficulties and confidence in their child’s ability to cope.
In the SPACE program, parents learn about about the underpinnings of anxiety and the interpersonal nature of how anxiety can be inadvertently reinforced, how to talk to their anxious child about their anxiety, how to avoid the common traps of being overly protective or demanding, how to identify when they themselves have been enabling their child’s anxious behaviors, and how to support their child face challenging anxious experiences so that the child can learn that they are indeed capable of handling difficult anxious moments.