Avera Medical Minute: COPE Program Helps Kids Deal with Anxiety

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The lives of children and teens are being impacted, one at a time in a room at the Avera Marshall Minnesota Carlson Campus. The pressures of life, including school, other students, and home are being addressed with the Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment, or COPE program.

COPE program

Natalie Oellien describes how it worked for herself and daughter Jocelyn. "It was an eight-week program where Jocelyn and I came and met with Amanda. It had stories and situations and how you deal with it, so every week was like a 20-minute lesson and Jocelyn would have some homework to bring back," said Oellien.

One of the things Jocelyn discovered to be a big stress reliever was gymnastics and lists off her favorite activities. "I like the back handsprings, I like to do back tucks on the tramp. I like to do back walkovers," said Jocelyn.

Amanda Enestvedt, an Avera Pediatric Nurse Practitioner facilitates many of the sessions. "So COPE is a cognitive behavioral therapy program for children and teens. I see ages seven through eighteen. We teach them various coping skills, like deep breathing, guided meditation, positive self-talk; those types of things. Lots of kids can benefit from it but typically I see kids with anxiety, depression, aggressive behaviors, bullying, and low self-esteem; really anything parents think their kids are struggling with," said Enestvedt.

The symptoms of anxiety look different for kids than adults. Your child may say they have a headache or muscle aches, but most of the time, anxiety presents in a very specific way. "They say I have a stomach ache, and that's it period. So if they get it every morning before school, something maybe is going on at school that we didn't know about because they didn't tell us," said Enestvedt.

Working through the COPE program has brought new tools for Jocelyn, which has created a positive effect for the entire family and paved the way for a new outlook on life.