How to Calm Anxiety in Children
When your child has an anxiety disorder, he/she may experience extreme fear/worry, affecting his/her sleep, eating, mood, and even interaction with others.
If you’re a parent or guardian of a kid with anxiety, here are some of the things you can teach him/her when he/she is anxious:
Slow, deeper breaths
Slow, deep breathing is one of the effective ways to calm anxiety both in children and adults.
You can teach your child to do deep breathing by having him/her blow bubbles, blow on a pinwheel, slowly blow out pretend candles, or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Crossing the midline
Research shows that moving your hands or feet across and to the other side of the body can help reset the brain. You can have your child do windmills or walking in figure eight.
Doing heavy work
Some physical activities like doing heavy work can boost the child’s focus and attention.
When a child is anxious, you can try doing a wall push-up, pulling a wagon, or even carrying a pile of books. These simple ways are shown to help calm and regulate emotions.
Focus on one thing
Studies show that narrowing our attention can actually help us relax.
When anxious, you can teach your kid to look at or think of one thing. You may also do guided imagery by asking the child to think of his/her happy place.
Make a plan
One of the most common mistakes of parents when dealing with a child’s anxiety is trying to eliminate it, instead of helping the child learn to deal with it. Making an anxiety plan is a good way of doing the latter.
For example, if your child is anxious about being new in school, you can help him/her come up with an anxiety plan. It could be chewing gum, doing guided imagery, or doing slow, deep breathing.
If these things don’t work in your situation or if you feel overwhelmed in helping your anxious child, don’t hesitate to see a specialist. Anxiety is common and talking to a professional may help you find the best ways to help your child.