Having anxiety can be very strenuous when going about daily life. It's heartbreaking when your child is living life through this circumstance. As a parent, taking your child to see a doctor and/or counselor is important and helpful on your part. However, you can take action as well to help your child implement strategies at home to make home life a safe space and a less stressful environment.
Here are five things to teach your kid to do when their anxious:
1. Deep Breathing is a very important. Anxiety and stress causes the
diaphragm to flatten which causes us to breathe shallowly. This can increase physical symptoms like dizziness and muscle tension but can also trigger your body to respond to stress in ways that contribute to anxiety and panic attacks. Say to your child, "Feel your belly as you take deep breaths. You should feel with your hand your belly expanding when you inhale and flattening when you exhale the deep breaths, like a balloon!" When you notice your child going through a stressful time and they just cant seem to get a hold of their situation, make sure to have them just take a moment to breathe and be in the moment. Having them not think about anything at all in this moment besides their breath can calm a person down immensely. Refer to How to Take a Deep Breathe post for more information.
2. Journaling or keeping a diary helps get kids’ get their thoughts out on paper. It can feel a lot better to put feelings out in the physical world than keeping them inside. Journaling is a wonderful and healthy way to express emotion. Drawing is also a great way to have children not stress themselves out to an unhealthy level and put their focus on the art they are making.
3. Acknowledge the problem. With whatever your child is anxious about, it is important that your kids know it does not help to run away from the problem. In the moment, if your child’ anxiety levels are high or they are frustrated with a task they must
acknowledge their feelings. It is important however, that you help your child face their tasks and encourage them to never avoid uncomfortable situations or tasks because doing this will only help in the short term. It's important for them acknowledge the problem and seek solutions or utilize distress tolerance skills to help them get through it.
4. Create a checklist of what helps when feeling anxious. Having a list to follow when feeling anxious helps your child focus on strategies they know may help. Things on the list may include deep breathing, grounding activities, using a stress ball, taking a run, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and so on..
5. Encourage them to go to a “relaxation zone” you've created. Setting up a little corner at home with a tent, a little table with a journal, pencil, crayons, books, stuffed animals, and maybe a fuzzy blanket can create a space for your child to relax. When your child feels anxious, encourage them to have this space and take a breather in the “relaxation zone”. This creates a calming environment for your child to journal their thoughts and get creative with arts and crafts to manage their anxiety.
Everybody is different and you know your child best! Make sure your child knows that you acknowledge their feelings and that you are there for them regardless of the situation. Always VALIDATE your child's feelings by saying things like, "You must be feeling afraid." This will help them feel understood.However, show them that their anxiety does not define them. It is okay to worry, but using tips and tricks to think out situations and calm down help tremendously. Anxiety shouldn’t get in the way of facing situations or tasks. It is all about self-management! Contact your doctor and/or counselor if you feel that your child may be suffering with anxiety and see what regimens will be best for you and your child! Find Out if You or Your Child Have Anxiety or an Anxiety Disorder.