- 2 mins
The Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack
When your child is experiencing anxiety it can feel like quicksand, pulling them in and keeping them tethered to their thoughts. In an interview that Moshi conducted with Dr. Clark Goldstein, he explains that many different factors impact how a child is able to articulate their worries, from age to stage of development. Parents and caregivers can take note of how big stressors and everyday worries play into the child’s ability to function.
One of the first things to do to support a child who is feeling anxious is to sit with them and talk about what these feelings look and feel like. What kind of safe physical space can be set up when these feelings arise? Many early childhood classrooms have a “cozy” corner for children to reflect, decompress, and process big feelings. Caregivers can develop a similar practice at home by setting up a small comfortable area. At times of distress, it is critical to help children feel physically at ease before unpacking their thoughts and feelings. Dr. Goldstein stresses this time to really understand the child’s perspective and their thoughts. Ask questions rather than make assumptions about their fears both big and small. Having these types of conversations surrounding worry will support the child’s ability to build an anxiety toolkit, and prevent the adult from problem-solving for the child.
As you talk to your child about their feelings and sensations, first reassure them that they are safe. Then, try using a variety of techniques and strategies to help dissipate the anxiety. Dr. Erin Leyba advises parents to use breathing, chewing gum, singing, and even gargling to interrupt the fight-or-flight reaction. Another way to support your child is to find a playful way to breathe. Some ideas include breathing with a pinwheel, blowing bubbles, or breathing along with their favorite Moshi Breathing track. Movement such as cross-body exercises or yoga postures are great activities to help stimulate and reset the brain’s thinking.
In ShiShi & Mr. Snoodle’s Anxiety Hacks, children are able to hear with greater clarity the steps that can be taken to get out of an anxious “maze.” ShiShi uses her toolkit to distract and disguise her anxious feeling with a silly word. The Moshi Kids follow-up activity provides caregivers with guiding questions to lead a discussion around their child’s own anxiety.
Using Mr. Snoodle as a model, practice speaking about nervous and exciting feelings. What tricks can you come up with based on ShiShi’s toolkit? While you engage in this activity, you will build up your own anxiety toolkit for the next time your child experiences anxiety. The language within the activity can stand in as a script for you and later for your child as you reassure safety, silliness, and support. As you work your way through this anxiety hack maze, think about ways to encourage your child to think like ShiShi the next time they feel a heightened sense of anxiety.