Helping Your Anxious Child
Furthermore, anxiety occurs more frequently in children with:
special health care needs, medical conditions, and traumatic backgrounds. The influence this condition has on a child’s brain can be significant, reducing memory and learning. This, in turn, causes a ripple effect of school failure, depression, and suicide.
However, those facts don’t tell the whole story, and they certainly don’t tell your child’s story or offer any lifeline to help.
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Affect the Entire Family
Reading clinical studies feels like a meaningless exercise while bearing witness your child’s struggles with chronic fear and anxiety. Observing it rob your child’s peace, and negatively impact his or her sleep, ability to learn, friendships, and psychological and physical health is hear twrenching. Your child is also likely crying, having nightmares, feeling restless, irritable, and sad. She or he may have stomachaches, nausea, shaking hands or legs, sweaty palms or feet, racing heart, rapid breathing, tense and achy muscles, shortness of breath and dizziness. All of these symptoms invariably affect his or her ability to cope.
Remember the time when you couldn’t get your child on the bus or in the car to go to school? Or all the malls or movie theaters you left when your little one had a panic attack? Or during the nights when you watched the moon set and the sun rise, while your child was in and out of bed so many times you lost count? Of course, you recall those afternoons when the stress of the school day led to meltdowns that didn’t end until your child escalated to the point of exhaustion . . . yours and his. Not to mention the countless birthday parties your child didn’t attend because of social anxiety.
Take a deep breath. Smile. There is good news. Even though anxiety can be chronic, for most children and people, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. For guidance and support, ComfortingAnxiousChildren.com, is a new online resource which offers the following supporting advice to help you help your little one.
While some children need medication, many others do not. In addition to mental health counseling and therapy, there’s a lot you can do to help at home or in the classroom. Research-based and alternative therapies can address anxiety from a holistic perspective such as:
• Cognitive strategies that engage the child’s mind through the
use of bibliotherapy, positive self-talk, and visualization.
• Kinesthetic ways to engage the child’s body through relaxation
breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, weighted therapies
• Sacred practices to soothe the child’s spirit through: prayer,
mindfulness, and meditation.
Help the child create a Calm Kit or Relaxation Station (places at home or school where the child can go to relax and work through anxiety). Calm Kits contain things that the child can use to help him manage anxiety. It can contain any things that help the child relax. Some ideas:
• stress or squishy balls
• Make a Worry Wand. The child waves the Worry Wand (like a
magic Wand) and commands the worries to disappear.
• aromatherapy spray
• therapy dough (with essential oils is great)
• fidgets like Tangle Relax Therapy
• teddy bear or doll
• pebbles or smooth stones to hold
• weighted lap pad/vest
• weighted blanket ( warmth and gentle heat calm anxiety)
• noise cancelling headphones
• bibliotherapy books
• downloaded relaxation music or videos on tablet/device
• poster or chart of calming strategies/positive affirmations
Once the child is calm, help them develop cognitive strategies to manage anxious thoughts. like:
• Positive Self-Talk
• How to recognize when they are ruminating or having dist-
orted thoughts . . . for example: “Every kid in my class hates
me.” Help them re-frame the negative th
oughts: “Most people
like me because I am a good friend.”
ComfortingAnxiousChildren.com was created by the award-winning author of The Wolf Pack Classroom, Janis Gioia. She is an Intervention Specialist with a Master’s degree in Special Education. Visit her site to receive her free guide: Comfort Your Anxious Child.