E for Excessive Reassurance Seeking: Positive Behaviour Support

It is normal for all children to seek reassurance from time to time to alleviate worry, doubt or fear. However, for some children, this is not enough. Some children seek the same answers, explanations and reassurances so many times that it becomes excessive.

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Excessive Reassurance Seeking (ERS) is common in children with anxiety, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and Hypochondriasis for a variety of reasons.

The need for reassurance and answering previously asked questions can become a never-ending cycle. Repeating the information only relieves the child’s fear, worry and unease momentarily, but as soon as the reassurance has been given, the anxiety returns. This happens because when the child feels anxious (e.g. What if mum doesn’t come to pick me up?), they seek safety through reassurance, which makes them feel better. This bolsters their belief that if they hadn’t sought reassurance from an adult immediately, their anxiety may have increased, and the feared consequence may have happened. Thus, the behaviour is reinforced, and the child requires more and more reassurance over time.

Based on the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), E for Excessive Reassurance Seeking (ERS) is a step-by-step guide that will help you develop a comprehensive PBS plan step-by-step:

1.Working out why your child is excessively seeking reassurances (assess),

  1. How to respond when your child seeks reassurances excessively (manage,) and
  2. How to prevent them from seeking reassurances excessively (prevent).

Use the practical tools (checklists, forms and strategies) provided to develop comprehensive PBS plans that can be used to support children of all ages consistently in all contexts. This invaluable resource is useful for parents, caregivers, educators in childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary schools, disability, mental health, allied health and supervisory professionals.

Download Accompanying Forms Resource