There are many scenarios, when children can be anxious and these techniques will help them relax and regain their sense of control. Practice these together to help them discover what works best for them.
Take a few deep breaths.
When we feel anxious or tense, we naturally tend to take rapid, shallow breaths. The simple act of breathing slowly and deeply can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Have your child practice this: Breathe in slowly through the nose…hold for a few seconds…and then slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat several times.
Relax from head to toe.
Take deep breathing to the next level. If your child is at home or someplace else where they can relax, have them lie down with one hand on their stomach and the other on the chest. Ask them to close their eyes and relax all muscles, from the top of their head to the tips of their toes, with a focus on breathing slowly and deeply and imagining the tension draining out of their body with every breath.
Take a relaxing mental vacation
Help your child visualize a place they find relaxing. Have them close their eyes and picture somewhere they really like to go, such as the beach or park. Ask them what sounds they normally hear there and what the place looks / smells like. Encourage them to imagine in great detail what they find relaxing about this place, what makes them feel safe and relaxed. Let them focus on that whilst breathing slowly to relax and calm themselves further.
Catch unhelpful thinking
In order to help your child deal with anxiety when she’s confronting a challenge, like an upcoming test, teach her to recognise and replace unhelpful thoughts with upbeat ones. Help them think about things they did that they didnt think they could do, but they did it anyway. Get them to come up with examples when they overcame a challenge. Brainstorm together and come up with empowering thoughts they can repeat in their mind. “I can do it” or “I am strong” are good choices. Help them combine this with the breathing technique to calm their mind and body.
Get moving. Jump. Bounce. Run.
Exercise can be a great way to channel nervous energy as it releases feel-good endorphins that boost our mood and also gets rid of stress hormones from the body. A win-win! I'm sure they can come up with great ways of doing this, but you can ask them to hop up and down, do a few laps around the garden, or whatever works best wherever you happen to be at the time. Just let them move to help them to get rid of their excess energy, so the body can start to restore itself and the endorphins can start working, counterbalancing their nervous energy. Then they can settle down by calming their breathing and refocusing on whatever it was that they were trying to do or concentrate on.
Crank up their favourite tunes.
Another great way to immediately diffuse tension is to listen to music. It can be their choice too. They can listen to music that makes them want to dance or bounce around or to soothing songs that calm them down. The choice is theirs! It works beautifully.
You are their role model. Don't forget that.
How you deal with stress influences how your child learns to cope, too. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can say something like, “I’ve got so much to do today, I don’t know how I’m going to get everything finished! I need to take a minute to do my bouncing... Then I’ll feel better.” And ask your child to join you. And have some fun!
Childhood / Fulfilment / Happiness / Parenting / Wellbeing
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