10 things you can do to help your anxious child

February 7, 2019

10 things parents can do to help an anxious child

Anxiety in children is common. More and more children are suffering from levels of anxiety that are having an impact on their ability to feel good about themselves or engage in day to day activities. It can often be hard for parents to understand why their children are feeling anxious it can be difficult to know the best thing to do to help.

Here is a list of 10 things that you can do if your child is anxious:

  1. Get your child to write down what they are worried about and then throw it away. Worries are always worse when they are inside their heads and the simple act of getting it on paper removes it from their head to the piece of paper.  The act of throwing it away physically has the effect of throwing it away mentally too.
  2. Create a ‘worry time’ of 10-15 minutes per day. Tell your child that they can only talk about their worries during this time.  If they try to talk about what’s worrying before the worry time the ask them to save it for later. This gives them the skill of self-control and often once worry time comes around they have forgotten about the worry or found a way to deal with it in the meantime. For this strategy to work effectively it’s important that there is an actual ‘worry time’ each day and you don’t just put off your child from talking about what’s worrying them though!
  3. Get your child to write a letter starting ‘Dear Me’ and ask them to offer themselves some advice as if they were writing the letter to a friend in their situation.When we offer support and advice to others we are very often kinder and more objective than when we talk to ourselves
  4. Personify the worry with something like a worry doll or an imaginary character. Encourage your child to talk to the doll or imaginary character about how they are making them feel and ask them to try to find some practical solutions or to see the worry from a different more positive perspective
  5. Teach your child the ‘power pose’. Holding the body in a powerful pose for a few minutes can have a dramatic impact on positivity and can help to enable more constructive thinking rather than catastrophising. Get them to do it in front of a mirror for the greatest impact.
  6. Create a playlist of songs they can listen to when they feel anxious. Music can have a strong influence on how we feel and by hearing certain songs or pieces of music when they are feeling anxious, your child can start associating these songs with calming down and feeling more relaxed.
  7. Encourage them to do things to help others. By helping others they will start to turn their attention outwards rather than inwards. Helping others gives a sense of purpose and satisfaction and also shows them that they are not the only one who has problems to deal with.
  8. Do a tech detox. Studies have shown that modern technology is adversely correlated to sleep and stress – especially in young adults. By encouraging your child to spend less time on technology they will be able to spend their time more creatively which can help alleviate anxiety. Perhaps they could go outside, make something, take up a hobby or physical activity instead.
  9. Teach them to ‘read’ their body and scan it for feelings of discomfort that they can start to recognise as anxiety. If they can identify these uncomfortable feelings early on they become easier to deal with. Get them to draw what these feelings look like if it helps.
  10. Practice breathing techniques. When children feel anxious, often one of the first things to happen is that their breathing becomes shallow and oxygen to the brain is reduced. There are many strategies which can help children to breathe more effectively, get more oxygen to their brain and calm their bodies down. Square breathing is a good technique.

Use the outline of the square and place your index finger on the bottom left hand corner. Breathe in as you trace your finger up to the top left corner. Hold your breath as you trace your finger across the top of the square to the top right corner.  Breathe out as you trace your finger down to the bottom right hand corner. Finally hold your breath as you trace your finger back to the start position. This technique enables more oxygen to get to the brain and slows the body down enabling them to feel calmer and more able to think clearly.

 

If your child still struggles with their anxiety then please get in touch with me. I work with lots of children and teens to help them to understand their worries and anxiety and deal with them using easy to implement strategies. Take a look at my ‘Brilliant Minds’ group workshops https://bethparmar.co.uk/programmes/brilliant-minds-workshops/or get in touch directly to discuss my 1-2-1 coaching sessions.

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This post was written by Beth Parmar