Children and Anxiety

Jennifer MitchellPsychotherapy

As kids head back school, some may be excited about going back to class others may be feeling a bit unsure. Perhaps some kids are heading back to in-person classes for the first time since COVID!  While mask mandates are lifted, some kids may want to continue to wear one and some may be worried about judgement from their peers for wearing, or not wearing a mask. They may have worries about their own health, or the health of their loved ones. And the usual anxieties still exist for kids such as friendships, doing well in school, sports and general management of day to day!  Years ago, before COVID, I wrote about some of my favorite strategies for children which include: 

  1. Never shame a child for their fears or anxiety. Validate their feelings and then explore ways to cope with the fear or anxiety
  2. Help them catch their Automatic Negative Thoughts – ANTS. Catch them and then reframe them to be more realistic or neutral (More herehttps://bebrainfit.com/automatic-negative-thoughts/)
  3. Teach Mindfulness Skills using the senses. For example: 
    1. 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. 
    2. 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.
    3. 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 (https://www.mindful.org/how-to-create-a-glitter-jar-for-kids/)
  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 fuzzy 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 can help with your child’s mental health. Please call 403-454-7600 or email info@serenitynowwellness.ca  to get started today.