5 Easy Ways To Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety
Lately, I've heard from several parents that they are struggling with
how to help their child deal with anxiety.
This anxiety is often triggered by pretty common occurrences. Examples of these
triggers include things like going back to school after missing a few days due
to illness, getting braces, or having to perform in a school recital.
Does your child complain of stomach
aches? Does your child get lots of headaches? Does your child curl up into a
ball and want to hide from the world? Are there lots of tears when it's time to
go to school?
These are all signs that your child is struggling with stress. It means it's
time to teach your child ways to manage and cope with their stress and anxiety.
Here are 5 easy ways to help your child deal with stress (oh... and they work
for parents, too!!)
1. One of the easiest ways to relax is to BREATHE. Most of the time, our
breathing is quite shallow. We only use a small portion of our lungs. To help
your child relax, have them place their hands on their abdomen and breathe in
deeply enough to make their abdomen push their hands out. Have them take 5 nice
deep breaths. Encourage them to repeat this throughout their day. Deep breathing
increases the amount of oxygen they take into their body. This reduces their
heart rate, lowers their blood pressure, improves their concentration and helps
them relax. This is something that they can do anywhere, anytime and without any
equipment. (see our handout on "How To Breathe Deeply").
2. Another easy way for kids to relax is meditating. There are many ways to
meditate. You can find guided meditations for kids on YouTube or iTunes. You can
also go to my website and subscribe to my Free E-Guide for suggestions. If you
and your child are new to meditating, why not try a laughing meditation. Mix up
a bowl of laughter soup. Have your child hold an imaginary bowl in their hand
and throw in as many funny thoughts as they can. You can throw some in too! Have
them stir it up and then drink their soup right out of the bowl. Tell them to
feel those funny thoughts move through their body and make them giggle. Of
course, this works much better if you play along and create your own laughter
soup. Laughter is a great way to relax, boost the immune system and improve the
connection between you and your child. (see our handout on "Things That Will
Make You Laugh")
3. Visualization is another great way to help your child relax. Here is an
example for you to read aloud to your child. Take your time, pausing now and
again. (see our handout on "Visualizing Your Special Place")
Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take 4 nice, deep breaths.
Feel your body relax. Now, imagine yourself floating on an air mattress in the
ocean. The waves are gently rocking you on the mattress. The sun is shining down
on you, making you feel warm and relaxed. There is a slight breeze, so you don't
get too warm from the sun. If you want to, you can roll onto your stomach. The
air mattress is clear. You are able to see many colorful fish swimming below
you. Once in awhile, you see a turtle pass underneath you. Sometimes they stop
and look up at you, almost as if they are saying hello. You feel very relaxed.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see something swim towards you. When you turn
your head to look, you see a beautiful dolphin making it's way towards the air
mattress. The dolphin stops and looks at you. It is like he is telling you he is
glad you are here and hopes that you will come back to visit often. You spend a
few more minutes enjoying this peaceful place. When you feel ready, you can take
4 nice, deep breaths. Then, wiggle your fingers and wiggle your toes. When you
feel ready, you can open your eyes.
Ask your child about their experience. They may want to draw what they saw. Let
them know they can visit their special place anytime they want to. They can
change where they go in their imagination. The sky is the limit.
4. Self-talk. Ask your child what they say to themselves. Do they say things
like I can't do math, I'm dumb, or I'm not pretty? Help them change their
self-talk. Examples: I'm calm. I can do math. I am beautiful. I learn new things
quickly and easily. (see our handouts "Positive Thinking Exercise" and "Positive
5. Exercise. Take a few minutes to dance around the house with your child, go
for a walk or kick a soccer ball around the yard. When you exercise with your
child, you both gain the benefits, plus you are creating a deeper connection
with your child. (see our handout "What Is Your Favorite Physical Anxiety")
Play around with these ideas. Try one thing each day. Please note, the side
effects include a happier, healthier child and a closer relationship with you.
our page of anxiety
printables to help guide you when working with your child
by Nola Peacock
Nola Peacock, is a kids confidence coach. She is
passionate about helping children, teens and their parents, deal with issues
that arise, such as difficulties communicating, bullying, anxiety or depression.
Nola also works with families who are going through difficult family situations
such as divorce or grieving the loss of a loved one.