Possibly the worst part of anxiety is anxiety about anxiety. The well-known metaphor of the snowball, which grows fat as it rolls downhill, can help us illustrate how rampant anxiety grows rapidly. Children can learn to deal with anxiety by acquiring two crucial skills: an ability to calm down and solve problems. The escalation of anxiety in children can be expressed and perceived as challenging behavior. Teaching your child to listen and control your anxiety can help you a lot now and in the future, and even improve your behavior. Here are five techniques widely used in clinical practice to help children manage anxiety:
Breathe with them. Slow and deep breathing facilitates the reduction of anxiety. You can help your child practice this, guiding him to imagine how the air travels through the nose, through the trachea, and reaching the belly, which swells like a balloon. You can help from Youtube videos explaining how to perform this diaphragmatic breathing. Another way to relax is to alternately tighten and relax the muscles alternately. In this case you can teach him through funny scenes, such as squeezing your hands tightly as if you are squeezing lemons, tightening the muscles of the face to try to frighten a fly that has perched on his nose, or squeeze the muscles of the Shoulders and neck to imagine being a turtle that hides its head inside the shell.
Help them identify negative thoughts. You can guide him to find and assimilate a character or drawing such thoughts. In this sense, for example, negative thoughts can be ants that suddenly appear and say things like “I’m going to go wrong”, “you’re going to fall”, “everything goes wrong” … that makes us very nervous. Encourage them to express these fears and talk to them. You can draw those ants with negative thoughts. Help him produce alternative thinking, such as “if I keep practicing, it will get better and better”, “we all make mistakes and make mistakes, I can learn from them and do better next time. ” This will give your child more confidence and reduce their anxiety. Also, knowing that you can count on yourself to express yourself freely will teach you something very valuable, we are all vulnerable and that does not mean being weak.
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Use exposure strategies. Anxiety has an important physiological component, that is, body sensations generally very unpleasant for those who suffer. Exposure to these sensations, even if it sounds paradoxical, facilitates the interruption of the escalation of anxiety. For example, for a child reporting breathlessness due to anxiety, we can ask him to sit down with his father and hold their breath together. The goal is for the child to identify the physical symptoms of anxiety but in the absence of the cognitive perception of fear and panic. Although adults also create anguish to see a child suffering anxiety, and what comes out spontaneously is to protect and facilitate the escape of that situation, we must keep in mind that exposure is always going to be much better to help you than avoidance. Therefore we recommend that you show close, affectionate and firm in encouraging your children to confront and work with their fears.
Guide the child in the imagination of pleasant scenes. You can help your child imagine a relaxing place and become aware of the feelings and feelings of calm in his body. Or, you can ask him to imagine a box where he can put the worries that bother him, to use when he needs it or want to be doing other things. This is a game to provide you with tools, but do not forget that those concerns must be heard.
Encourage the child to make a list of “things that went well today” at the end of the day. This helps those anxiety-prone children develop an optimistic cognitive style, encouraging them to be able to focus on the positive, as well as assessing their daily successes.