Children & Anxiety
Written by: Clarice Stout, MA
Just like adults, children too can experience anxiety like feelings and symptoms. If you feel like your child is experiencing more anxiousness than normal, here are some helpful therapeutic tools that can help children with anxiety. These tools may also be helpful for children who are experiencing more stress than usual with finding a new rhythm with going through and living through this pandemic we are currently in. Whether anxiety is happening at home or outside the home when you’re out and about and you need help in calming your child down here are some helpful tools:
If you can, hear them out and validate their feelings whether it be they are scared about something, or nervous about something. Sometimes just saying “it’s okay, calm down” may not be enough. Validating and providing open communication (having a conversation) about their anxiety can go a long way and can create room for soothing reassurance for the child.
To help calm anxiety down in the moment a coping tool could be having the child name animals alphabetically such as alligator, bee, crow, etc… This can help the child calm their nerves by focusing on a healthier task. Another similar coping tool would be having the child think about their favorite things and say them out loud and or having them imagine their favorite place and describing it out loud to you in detail. These specific tools can also be really helpful if you are trying to help the child calm down at a store or somewhere in public.
Another quick way to help calm down anxiety in children is either them getting or you the parent giving them a cold drink of water. Cold water is helpful for the physical symptoms that come along with anxiety, such as when anxiety is heightened the body temperature goes up and sometimes it can be hard to catch a breath. Cold water can sooth the body and help regulating the body’s temperature back to normal and therefore can help with decreasing the anxiety.
One last tool that can be helpful for children is the 5,4,3,2,1 grounding tool. This tool goes through each of the five senses to help the child or adult for that matter, to calm the body down by becoming in tune with our five senses. This tool helps children better manage their anxiety for when they start to feel stressed. All these tools for that matter can be helpful in helping children get through anxiety provoking situations. All in all, the 5,4,3,2,1 tool is having the child name five things they can see, name four things they can hear, name 3 things they can smell, name two things they can taste, and name one thing they can touch. Children who can practice these kinds of tools are sometimes better prepared for when they become older to handle stress and anxiety in more healthier ways. Also, when stress and anxiety are at really high levels for children, therapy can also be a helpful outlet to gain more tools and insight to decrease anxiety!
Written by: CLARICE STOUT, MA, Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 107743 under the supervision of Dr. Joselyn Josephine Ayala-Encalada PsyD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 96987.