10 Tips to Curb Anxiety in Children
With Anxiety increasing year after year, we as parents are searching for ways to help our children not become overly anxious. In fact, the CDC published children with anxiety increased from 5.5% in 2007 to 6.4% in 2011- 2012. One in six ages 2-8 years has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder.
Here are activities to do with your child as well as teach your child to instill a calmness.
1. Use the "Anger Thermometer" to help them recognize when they are getting angry. Also, this simple worksheet will help them begin to identify what anger feels like in their body at each stage.
2. Make a Worry Catcher (Like a Dream Catcher). Use yarn and thread it around an embroidery hoop. Then, attach pieces of paper with the worry written on it with a mini clothespin. This can be hung beside their bed or tucked away to symbolize the worries being caught and filed away.
3. Use a Worry Box to help a child "store away" their worries. This can be a simple file box, decorative box or even a shoe box. Write their worries on paper and put them in the box. Putting the box beside their bed or under the bed or on a desk. Actually the action of closing the lid helps the child to feel they are putting the worries to bed.
4. Read a book with a child or encourage a young reader to read one on their own. This will distract them from thinking of what is making them anxious. It is calming to the brain and slows the child down. A book that is not real action-oriented may be better, but any book will do!
5. Coloring is cathartic. Again, with the child as a parent-child activity or one by themselves is effective to slow them down.
6. Breathing is key! Even during a tantrum, helping a child to slow their breathing down is key. But, how you breath is important. Breathing in through your nose and holding it for a second or two and then exhaling out your mouth. This is deep breathing. Do this at least three times and then wait 30 seconds to a minute and do three sets again.
7. Count to ten will help a child refocus their anxiety. Pick a focal spot anywhere in the room and help them count to ten slowly. 1- 2 - 3 - etc. The slower the better!
8. Feel the emotion in the body. Helping a child to recognize where they feel the worries. For example, when they begin to get anxious, does their stomach hurt or their hands feel tingly. Engaging the 5 senses is therapeutic.
9. Write a note on a small piece of paper and put it in their pocket. You can write a note, "You are awesome!" and have them put it in their pocket. When they feel worried during the day, they can just touch it and they will remember that you are there for them.
10. Stress Balls/Slime/Squishies/Mini Nerf Balls all help to relieve the tension. Squeezing the balls will help to transfer the anxiety from their mind to the ball.