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Childhood Anxiety

By Clare Bowers

Anxiety can be challenging to navigate, especially for children. Here are some coping strategies that can help support children dealing with anxiety:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Teach your child deep breathing techniques, such as belly breathing or counting breaths. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, holding for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly. Deep breathing activates the body's relaxation response, promoting a sense of calm.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Introduce your child to mindfulness exercises, such as guided meditations or body scans. These practices can help them become aware of their thoughts and sensations in the present moment, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

  • Positive Self-Talk: Teach your child to recognise and challenge negative thoughts. Encourage them to replace anxious thoughts with positive and reassuring statements. For example, if they're worried about a test, help them reframe their thoughts by saying, "I have prepared well, and I will do my best."

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Guide your child through progressive muscle relaxation exercises. This technique involves tensing and then releasing each muscle group in the body, promoting physical and mental relaxation.

  • Creating a Safe Space: Help your child create a designated safe space where they can retreat when feeling anxious. This space should be calming and filled with comforting items like stuffed animals, blankets, or favourite books. Encourage them to use this space whenever they need a break or a moment of tranquility.

  • Encourage Expression: Provide opportunities for your child to express their feelings through creative outlets like drawing, painting, or writing. Art can serve as a therapeutic outlet for anxiety, allowing them to externalise their emotions and find a sense of release.

  • Physical Activity: Engage your child in regular physical activity, as exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety. Encourage activities they enjoy, such as dancing, swimming, or riding a bike. Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress.

  • Establish Routine: Create a structured routine for your child, as predictability and consistency can help alleviate anxiety. Knowing what to expect can provide a sense of security and stability.

  • Encourage Healthy Habits: Ensure your child gets enough sleep, eats nutritious meals, and practices good self-care. A healthy body supports a healthy mind and can help manage anxiety symptoms.

  • Seek Professional Help: If your child's anxiety persists or significantly impacts their daily life, consider seeking professional help from a mental health professional who specialises in working with children. They can provide appropriate interventions and support tailored to your child's needs.

Remember, each child is unique, so it's important to explore different coping strategies and find what works best for them. Be patient, supportive, and provide reassurance as they navigate their anxiety.

If your child is struggling with anxiety, you can access our fully funded counselling through the counselling page on our website

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