When most people think of anxiety, they picture how it effects adults and possibly themselves. For a long time, anxiety was thought to only be an issue adults faced. Did you know children experience anxiety too?
Even if your child is not diagnosed with anxiety based disorder, it is extremely important to teach calming techniques to your child. Telling someone to just calm down is never effective, though I am sure we have all found ourselves asking our children to do just that at least once in our lives. The following calming techniques are easy for children to understand (and work for adults too!)
- Give yourself a hug.
Touch is very therapeutic, so as you can imagine, hugs work amazing! Occupational therapist often recommends deep touch pressure to help calm anxiety. Deep touch pressure is a form of tactile sensory input commonly used for children with autism, anxiety and other sensory disorders. Giving yourself a hug is one major part of that technique. Have your child wrap their arms around themselves, squeeze and hold as long as necessary, while taking in a few deep breaths.
- Yoga & Stretches
Many adults around the world have discovered the multiple benefits of yoga. One of these benefits is that it helps to calm your senses, thus relieving your anxiety. Children can benefit from yoga just the same! You can teach them a multitude a simple pose such as downward facing dog, tree pose, and mountain pose.
To do mountain pose, start by standing with your legs shoulder-width a part, back straight, shoulders back and your arms down by your sides. Take a deep inhale and bring your arms up to your sides then over your head, keeping your arms straight and your fingertips pointing up. Keep your arms up, with palms facing each other and deeply exhale like the echo of a mountain. Inhale again and exhale, bringing your arms back down to your sides.
Breathing is one of the easiest calming techniques for children out there. You do not need any special tools or have to leave the situation at all. There are several different breathing techniques that all work great. The easiest one I have found is to take a large inhale, hold for three seconds, and then a large exhale. This can be repeated as many times as necessary for the child begins to calm down.
4.Taking a Walk
Taking a walk is known help improve our energy levels, strengthen our muscles, improve balance, and help with our overall health. Another great benefit of taking a walk is that it improves our moods and helps relieve anxiety.
When your child begins to have anxiety, if possible it is great to take a small walk. Walking offers movement which helps let some of that anxiety out physically. It also helps with breathing, and offers distractions to take their mind away from the cause of anxiety. Walking outdoors is my favorite of these, but anywhere you can take a walk will be helpful.
- Noise Cancelling Headphone
Noise cancelling headphones are an amazing resource for those affected by anxiety, especially children. Many times, excess noise can cause and anxiety and make current anxiety worse. Since leaving the situation may not always be possible, this is a great resource to use at school, concerts, and other busy places.
Noise cancelling headphones work by blocking out some background noises and reducing other sounds. You can still hear people speaking while wearing these, which is why they are really great for school.
- Listening to Music
Ever heard the phrase “Music calms the savage beast”? Though it may not calm a lion down, it works great for a child with anxiety. Classical music is a typical go to for calming music. Where this does work great, not every child enjoys classical music.
Having a small radio on hand is a great calming technique for children. They can have it preset to their favorite station and choose whether to use headphones with it. Listening to the music helps to calm them down, and some children prefer to sing along which is also a great distraction from the anxiety.
- Learn When to Step Away
Anxiety can be caused by various situations. Some of these situations can be prevented and others cannot. While it is great to work through the anxiety, sometimes it is best for the child to learn when to step away from the cause of the anxiety. This wouldn’t be appropriate for a test at school, but would be great if a playground game or loud environment is the cause of the anxiety.
These seven calming techniques for children are great resources for any parent or caregiver to know. Since children learn best by example, practice these calming techniques yourself to model them to your children. This will teach them how to use the techniques as well as encourage them to use them.
Alicia Trautwein is an autism/parenting writer living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families. She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism. For more information and a free copy of her e-book “Embracing Neurodiversity” visit www.themomkind.com.