As most of you know I suffer from anxiety. It doesn’t mean I can’t live a normal life, it just means that certain things that are easy for other people are hard for me. I don’t like large crowds, new places or change, to be honest. I love being in the comfort of my own home or somewhere else I’m comfortable. I’ve noticed over the past few years that my oldest son seems to have the same struggles that I do. He doesn’t like change and even school drop off can be a frightening daily feat for him. Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles about children with anxiety and it made me think about the things I’ve done with him that have seemed to help along the way. If you or your child suffer from anxiety or even just bouts of anxious thoughts, here are some tips to help your anxious child.
Change the Channel
One thing I tell my son when he starts to panic is to change the channel in his brain. Thoughts are like channels on TV, if one is upsetting you, think about something else or change the channel to a different thought. A big part of anxiety is to train your brain to think about something else or even just distract yourself from whatever is bothering you.
One Step at a Time
Something my son has really responded to as of late is this new reward chart I’ve created. Basically, I draw out about seven stairs and put a little person on the first step, Each time he does something brave (for us, it’s been school drop off) he moves up a step, then at the top of the staircase is a big reward. Rewards I like to use are: trips to park, movie nights, a new game or small toy. This could even work for adults, I would love to treat myself to a facial after I meet my goal!
Don’t Think About It, Just Do it
The worst thing someone with anxiety can do is to over think everything. I’m a big over thinker and it does no good in the long run. Spending time thinking about how I can get out of something or wondering how something will play out doesn’t help the situation go any differently. I find the best way to get over an anxiety producing activity is to just rip the band aid off and do it. Don’t think, just do.
It sounds silly and too simple to work but just taking deep breaths can really help in the middle of a panicky moment. Tell your child, or self, to breathe in through thier nose and out through their mouth. I wish I had remembered to do this during labor, maybe I would of screamed less!
Remember that anxiety is a good thing, it’s meat to warn you of an impending dangerous situation. The problem is it often kicks in during times when no danger is present, causing our mind and bodies to be overwhelmed and confused. Like I tell my son, anxiety is a good thing, it’s like a fire alarm that goes off during a fire – but our (those with anxiety) fire alarms are overly sensitive and can go off at random. Anxiety is not something that goes away, but thankfully it’s something you can help yourself or your child manage. These tips have been a huge help to us both – along with lots and lots of prayer.