School has started back up, and that means a lot of transitions for our kids and for us as parents. Whether your family has returned back to in-person school, is doing virtual learning, or a hybrid of both, school plans are changing on the fly, and we’re all trying to adapt as quickly as possible. The uncertainty of the unknown and all the new experiences may be causing some anxiety in your family.
That’s why we put together this list of three strategies that you can use to calm anxiety in a healthy and supportive way. Anxiety is a part of life that can serve to protect us, but can also be limiting if we don’t have tools to manage it. Teaching your child to confidently handle their anxious emotions is a skill that will help them throughout life.
JOURNAL ABOUT IT
Why is journaling so powerful? It gives us an outlet to process feelings, and can help to reframe your thinking about a situation.
Often it can be easier to write about hard things privately rather than talking about them with someone else. It’s easy to do, can be done anywhere, and a combination of writing and drawing can help kids to express themselves creatively.
Whether you use a guided journal, or any notebook, writing can be a great tool for processing anxiety.
IDENTIFY HOW IT FEELS
Anxiety and stress are emotions that manifest themselves physically in our bodies. Helping our kids to recognize these signs allows them to understand when they are feeling anxious and proactively use calming strategies to regulate.
You can start by asking your child how it feels in their tummy, their hands, and their muscles.
This one is one of the simplest exercises that even my 3 year old can do. The older kids enjoy it because it sparks fun positive memories of their birthdays. When they’re feeling overcome with emotions, we try to remind them to take deep breaths. Using fun kid-friendly language helps engage their attention.
To inhale, you might guide them by saying “Take a deep breath in like you’re about to blow out the biggest birthday candle.”
To exhale, you can guide them to extend their exhale by saying “Blow out through your mouth for as long as you can to make sure that candle is out.”
If they need a visual, I even hold up one finger at a time and ask them to visualize a candle, and invite the child to blow out one candle for every year of their age.
If you’re looking for more strategies to help, dowload this guided journal to work on a variety of strategies that kids can add to their toolbox. These tools and activites can provide a conversation or written prompt for them to practice coping strategies and self regulation. We designed the activities to be fun, and engaging for kids, so they can build the resilience they need to get through these uncertain times.
Just remember - you’re doing an awesome job, and we’re all doing the best we can. With support and strategies, you & your child will get through this together.
Studies show that as many as 1 in 8 children are affected by an anxiety disorder. If you think your child would benefit from support from a mental health professional, talk to your primary care provider, and access one of these resources:
IN CANADA -
Crisis Support - Kids Help Phone - Text "CONNECT" to 686868
IN THE US -
Crisis Text Line - Text “HELLO” to 741741