While going back to school can be exciting for many children and parents, it can also be a time of increased anxiety. Here are some of Dr. Jenn’s favorite anxiety strategies for children:
1. Never shame a child for their fears or anxiety. Validate their feelings and then help them figure out a way to cope.
2. Help them catch their Automatic Negative Thoughts – ANTS. Catch them and then reframe them to be more realistic or positive. (More here )
3. Teach Mindfulness Skills using the senses. For example:
- Make a game out of it and have the child wear a sleeping mask (if comfortable). Have an assortment of objects that the child describes to you using just their sense of touch. This encourages them to ‘be in the moment’ and focus on what they are feeling. Using their power of touch, they can make a guess about what is in their hand.
- Use a singing bowl, music or bell and have the child listen to the sound and let you know when they no longer can hear the music or sound. You can increase the time/volume etc. each time.
- If smells are not an issue (some children and adults are very sensitive to smells), have the child ‘guess the smell.’ I’ve used vanilla essential oil, cinnamon, lemon oil etc.
4. Make a Mindful glitter jar (also known as Calm Down Jars). They can be made from canning, baby food or mason jars filled with colored water, glitter glue, glitter and small objects the child enjoys. More here
5. Teach children how to use their own body to calm. For example, teaching them Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which includes tapping acupressure points in the body and saying positive affirmations; push hands into thighs; hold hands together and squeeze; breathe with a buddy on the belly.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but if you are finding it’s creating a lot of distress, it may be beneficial to talk to a therapist. We want to support children to live their best life! We have a variety of therapists who specialize in children’s mental health.
(NOTE: I do not claim that any of these ideas of my own! These are strategies that I like and have found successful. – Jenn)