We all deal with anxiety in our own way. Some of us quite successfully in a healthy manner, by keeping to our daily schedules and increasing, when needed, our stress-relief activities. Some of us struggle more with healthily managing our anxieties and might isolate ourselves when we feel sad, hopeless, or frustrated. Other reactions might include anger outbursts that can lead to feelings of shame and so the circle of negative emotions continues.
Similarly to this, our children feel “big” emotions just as or sometimes more intensely than us. They feel these in real-time, without always understanding the actual emotion, that it will most probably pass or diffuse with time and that there are certain activities we can practice to speed this process along.
So what can we do as parents to support our children with their inevitable feelings of anxiety?
Prep talks instead of pep talks - If our child has time to prepare for a change mentally, they can predict (with your help) various scenarios. This allows them to feel more in control of their environment and sensory system navigating through these.
Sensory needs during anxiety-provoking situations. I can’t stress enough how important it is to help your child become aware of his or her sensory needs at various times. When he is feeling anxious - which activities tend to calm him, when he is feeling lethargic - which activities tend to excite him, etc. The most appropriate way to help here is to ask advice from a sensory integration specialist, but there are activities you can bring in from today to help your child become more aware of these needs.
Cool-down chamber - we highly recommend including a “cool down” time where you help your child understand that taking a moment to debrief and de-escalate is needed and healthy after a possible anxiety-provoking interaction or environment.
I hope these few tips will make a difference in your child’s and your life, but please comment below if you have any other suggestions for parents. We learn best when we learn from each other.