1. You are brave
Anxious children are not anxious all the time in every situation, although they often believe they are. I’ve even had children arrive for an appointment announcing that they are anxious as if it’s their name! ‘Hello I’m anxious’. When they are like this, they expect to be anxious and it becomes their norm such that they don’t even notice the times when they are not. They delete that evidence and simply talk about all the times they are anxious because those examples fit their persona. I’ve had children who when something happens at school to make them anxious, they consciously think to themselves ‘I must remember to tell Mum when I get home’ even though it might have just been fleeting. But think, they’re dwelling on it all day as they want to remember it to recount when they get home.
If you think your child might be doing this, start to pay more attention to when they were brave. Ask them when they get home from school “when were you brave today?” and they will start to look out for examples of this during the day and think about those positive experiences instead ready to tell you when they get home.
Imagine how different their day will be and how this new pattern will start to make changes in their neural pathways!
2. Create a brave anchor
Continuing on this theme and remembering that the word you’re focusing on does not have to be ‘brave’ it could be ‘confident’ or ‘calm’ the important thing is that you are focusing on the positive desired state rather than the state you don’t want. It’s called ‘towards thinking’ and we are taking responsibility for the outcome we want and putting it out in our energy field as in The Law of Attraction (which children totally ‘get’).
So how do we create an anchor?
When your child does the thing they want to do more of, decide on a sign that will mark it out so a thumbs up sign perhaps. Encourage them to use that sign each time they experience that positive state. After a while that becomes associated with it such that when they need to find that positive state, by using the sign they can instantly create it.
3. Five finger breathing
Hold your left hand up and use your index finger on your right hand to trace up the side of your left hand and gently run the finger up and down each finger of your left hand , finishing with your thumb. As you go up one side of the finger, breathe in and as you go down the other side, breathe out. Now go back round repeating the action until you arrive back at the base of your little finger.
Breathing is a very effective way to change state. Your breath affects every part of your body and increases the oxytoxin as you take in more oxygen and breathe out more carbon dioxide.
4. Colour breathing
What is the colour of your child’s anxiety? That might sound a strange question but actually they will be able to answer it quite easily.
Ask they to breathe out that colour from wherever they hold their anxiety in their body, often the chest or stomach area.
What colour would they like to breathe in? What does that colour represent to them? It might be a colour for ‘calm’ or for ‘relaxing’, for ‘confident’ or just ‘being ok’. If they don’t know what the colour represents that doesn’t matter. The idea is that they breathe in a colour to ‘lighten and brighten’ the anxiety, whatever colour they choose is right.
Sometimes when children get stuck in a rut of anxiety, it becomes difficult to see another way. So ask them to visualise a positive outcome. Ask them to imagine what they’d like instead. I like the phrase “What would you like to have happen?” This gets them out of the rut to consider other options.
It often helps to suggest they look up when they are imagining as this connects us to the visual part of our brain. It also takes us out of our feelings which may be negative. When we look down we can become a bit reflective and by looking up it encourages us to have new more positive ideas.
6. EFT Tapping
I teach my clients how to tap when they feel anxious. I also run free children’s tapping groups only via the Time to Tap Facebook group. Do join us! There’s one for children, one for teens and one for mums and dads.
7. Gratefulness Diary
When children go to bed recording three things they are grateful for on that day, they find it easier to get to sleep, are less likely to wake up during the night with worrying thoughts about the day ahead and feel more positive when they wake up in the morning.
Some children like to write them down but it isn’t necessary so long as they ask themselves before they settle for the night ‘what are the three things I’m grateful for today?’.
I expect your child has learnt mindfulness at school. There are plenty of great mindfulness youtube videos, apps and downloadable scripts. I like the basic Body Scan as it’s so easy to do and children seem to like it. Get in touch if you’d like me to send you the MP3 or talk you through it.
9. Self – Compassion break
Put your hands on your chest and tune in to how you feel
Then stretch out both hands in front of you and say
“Children all over the world are feeling this right now”
Then take your hands back to your chest and say
“And what I need now is……………”
This is a great way for children to realise that they are part of a universe of children all over the world who are feeling just like them. They aren’t alone. It also encourages them to become aware of their needs. Maybe they need a hug, a glass of milk, to say sorry, to have some quiet time.
10. A mindfulness jar
Take an empty glass jar and put some water in it. Now take a selection of different colour glitters. Tell your child to imagine that each colour represents a feeling. Ask them to out as much of each feeling into the jar as they have. They are to name the feeling as they put the glitter in the jar.
When they have finished. Put on the lid and shake the jar.
Explain that this is like their head full of all sorts of thoughts ; angry thoughts, sad thoughts, frustration, envy, jealousy and so on. They get all jumbled up and agitated. But when you sit quietly and watch, they all gradually settle on the bottom of the jar and the water becomes clear. When we are calm and still and wait, our bad thoughts settle and we can soon feel clear again.
If you have a child who is experiencing anxiety at the moment please get in touch and we can have a chat. I charge £50 for a 45 minute EFT Tapping session or £85 for a one hour therapy session. The Time to tap group tapping sessions I mentioned earlier , are free.