There’s a whole lot of information out there on adults and anxiety, and there’s a lot of people talking about kids and anxiety, but nobody is really putting these two things together and telling you exactly what to do with your little anxiety-filled kiddos.
Being a kid is hard. If you think about it, things like mandatory school have really only been around a century or so, and social media is new in the last couple of decades.
These things can really wreak havoc on a kid’s nerves, but anxiety can happen with such simpler things than this.
What kids don’t realize is when they have a stomach ache or a headache, it can often times be attributed to anxiety. A lot of times when we are in the doctor’s office trying to figure out why our kid’s stomach hurts all of the time, or they have frequent headaches what we don’t put together is that this isn’t a medical problem as much as it is a psychological one.
First and foremost, kids and parents both need to understand that anxiety is completely normal. It’s how we handle it and what we do with it that really matters.
Here’s the thing about anxiety, it can start small, but then sometimes you can get anxiety over having anxiety. It can build up on itself so fast that without the proper coping techniques, can completely overwhelm and adult– much less a child.
Here are some simple tricks to teach your kids so they can cope with their anxiety out in the real world.
Take a deep breath. There are all sorts of calming apps and things out there nowadays to deal with stress, but the number one thing every single one of them does is make you take a deep breath.
Teach your kid how to actually feel their breathing. When you tell a kid to breathe they are like, “Yeah, cool. I am already doing that, lady.” so instead, work with them on actually pausing and feeling the air inside of them.
Have them breathe all the way in, tell them to feel the air inside of their lungs building them up and making them feel big. Have them feel the air leaving, and the stress along with it. Use the breath to really mean something.
Do this with them, and not just when they are already stressing, try it when you’re just sitting around doing nothing too.
If they can learn to breathe deep and pause in a moment when they are feeling good, and not just when they are mid-upset then they will have this as a coping skill when they need it.
Draw. Or Color. Anything to busy your mind. Often times kids have more down time than adults do, and that’s when the anxiety often creeps in. When they least expect it.
Print out some extra coloring pages for them to take in their bag or give them a small container of playdough to squish. Just something so they can move their hands and focus on that instead of the anxiety.
Talk About It. Kids aren’t great at expressing their feelings, but often times if they can just bring themselves to TALK about what is wrong, then an adult can articulate what is wrong and help them cope.
They often times don’t know it’s okay to have that stress and to discuss it with other people. Sometimes it helps if parents start.
Not with something huge, but with something small. “Man, sometimes I get overwhelmed when I have a lot of chores to do at once. I think I am going to make a list and check it off today so that doesn’t happen to me.”
Modeling is everything. Kids will start to see that even though you are overwhelmed, you figure out a way through. That’s a good thing!
Wiggle! Sometimes it’s just a matter of wiggling the worry away. Kids aren’t meant to sit still for hours, or honestly even minutes at a time. They need to wiggle and jiggle and jump and run.
When I was a teacher, nine times out of ten, if things were getting overwhelming, it was because we hadn’t moved enough that day.
Every student I ever taught knows that when I yelled, “WIGGLE BREAK!” I meant business! They better jump up and wiggle! Hah!
If you can’t get outside and play on a playground, a few jumping jacks, or even a quick dance to a happy song will work. It doesn’t take much for a reset.
Change The Scenery. As in, go into a different room, take a walk, or even just open a window. Think about how blah you fee on a cloudy day versus a sunny one. Kids do that, too!
Sometimes a little sunshine is all they need to get over whatever is eating away at them.
You can even take this to another level if your kids is really feeling the anxiety.
After my daughter was recovering from her surgery, she hated going in her room, and I couldn’t figure out why. We finally figure out it was because just laying in her bed reminded her of being sick.
All we had to do was buy new sheets, and she loved her room again!
I know these things sound like simple ways to combat anxiety in kids, but that is part of their beauty that is part of what makes them work.
If your kids can see that there are super simple ways to really deal with real world anxiety, then you’re turning them into healthy functioning adults! GO YOU!