3 easy ways to help kids deal with anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders people struggle with, but did you know that kids can struggle with anxiety too?
I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder when I was 9 years old after struggling with it for most of my life. So I'm constantly watching for signs of it in my kids and teaching them ways to get through it. Even if they don't struggle with an anxiety disorder like I did, teaching them how to cope with anxiety and stress in general, is a helpful skill they'll use for the rest of their lives.
With the way things are right now in the world, there is more stress and anxiety than ever, especially for kids trying to learn from home and accept this whole new changed world around them. They need our help to cope because seeing the adults they trust and love panic will just make that uncertainty worse.
Today I'm going to talk about 3 of my favorite coping techniques I used for my anxiety as a child, still use today, and use with my kids. I've also included a free printable of each technique so you can print them off and use them whenever you need them!
1. Sensory Shock
I struggled the most with my anxiety at school. I struggle a lot with social anxiety and my senses would get overwhelmed very easily and I would get overwhelmed just trying to listen to my teacher and learn. I found myself crying alone in the bathroom a lot unable to cope, and one day my teacher came in because she realized what I was doing and wanted to help. She explained to me that sometimes when she's overwhelmed it helps to bring everything back to one sense. She ran cold water over my wrist and told me to leave it there "until my blood cooled down". This helps in two ways, the first being the sensory shock. Instead of feeling every sense I have being overwhelmed, my mind only focused on touch, and how cold the water was. Everything else was just erased from my mind. The second is just like she said, the cooling of your blood. When your angry, sad, or crying you get hot and your blood pumps faster. Cooling down your body slows your heartbeat and helps you calm yourself down.
2. Tummy balloons
My parents put me into multiple forms of counseling as soon as they realized I was struggling. I was almost immediately diagnosed with both depression and anxiety, and reluctant to medicate me for either thing my parents instead searched for every other way there was to help me cope. I started CBT therapy and one of the first coping techniques I learned was tummy balloons, something I still use myself to this day. It's a breathing exercise where you take a deep breath into your stomach. You imagine a balloon inside of you and fill it, then empty it over and over until you've deep breathed enough to be calm. This is a great one for kids too because it helps them to be able to visualize the balloon to slow their breathing down.
This is actually something I didn't know how to do myself until recently, but the CEA who helped me in school would do it for me often when my other skills weren't working to calm me down and I needed someone else to help. It's called EFT Tapping, or emotional freedom technique tapping, and it's a great skill to learn. The idea is that tapping different parts of the body relieves emotional and physical pain, and it worked very well for me and works for my kids now as well. You tap in a certain sequence that releases the negative energy your holding in your body that's feeding the anxiety, pain, or whatever you're trying to relieve. The tapping points, in sequence, are as follows:
top of the head (TOH) — directly in the center of the top of the head
beginning of the eyebrow (EB) — the beginning of the brow, just above and to the side of the nose
side of the eye (SE) — on the bone at the outside corner of the eye
under the eye (UE) — on the bone under the eye, approximately 1 inch (in) below the pupil
under the nose (UN) — the point between the nose and upper lip
chin point (CH) — halfway between the underside of the lower lip and the bottom of the chin
beginning of the collarbone (CB) — the point where the breastbone (sternum), collarbone, and first rib intersect
under the arm (UA) — at the side of the body, approximately 4 in below the armpit
When tapping, use two or more fingertips and repeat the tap approximately five times on each point.
While some points — for example, the EB, SE, and UE — have a “twin point” on the other side of the body, it is only necessary to tap on one side. However, individuals can tap these points on both sides if both of their hands are free.
There are so many amazing techniques to use to relieve anxiety, and when you try a few that have worked well for other people it's easier to find the best one that works for you. Then it's easier to teach to your kids and help them with their stress or anxiety as well.
I've included a printable of each technique that you can print off and use whenever you need them! Just subscribe down below and then you'll have access to the printables page and you'll be able to grab a pdf for each technique!
I hope this blog was helpful to you or for your kids! Don't forget to subscribe to see more! Can you see yourself using any of these? Leave a comment down below and let me know which technique was your favorite!