Helping Children with Everyday Worries
All children experience feelings of worry or stress at times, but you can help keep them happy and healthy with these top tips from our Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Janet Kennedy.
Talk about it
Worries have a way of gaining strength when kept inside. Talking about them can help kids feel better. You can try talking to your little ones during playtime or while you are doing an activity together. Similar to adults, they can find it easier to talk about difficult subjects in a casual atmosphere.
Validate their feelings
Even if there is nothing to be afraid of, your little one’s fear is very real to them. It helps to use empathetic comments like “Oh yes, that does sound scary” or “I know that scares you” to reassure them that you understand and acknowledge their feelings. It is important to remember that when you validate their feelings, your kids will be better able to hear your thoughts and change their own behaviors.
Use guided meditations and imagery
Waldo’s Wondrous Washing Machine, a FREE meditation on the Moshi app, encourages kids to relax and visualize their worries fading away in a magical washing machine. It also utilizes the mesmerizing white noise of a washing machine over an enchanting musical backing.
Don’t avoid things that make your kids anxious
Helping children avoid the things they worry about will make them feel better in the short term, but it reinforces and will make anxiety longer in the long run. For example, if your child is afraid to be alone and never has to confront it, it only becomes harder to be alone. You can help by gradually and carefully exposing them to things that they worry about which will help teach them confidence and some new skills over time.
Teach them breathing exercises to help calm the physical symptoms of anxiety
When kids recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety (such as an upset stomach, rapid breathing, tightened chest, dizzy head, dry mouth, tingly arms, and legs), they can use breathing tools to calm down. Deep controlled breathing is the simplest. You can try practicing this with your child while lying down, ask your child to place one hand on their tummy and another on their chest. Have your child breathe in slowly and deeply while you count to 3. Ask them to focus on their hands rising and falling with their breath.
A good visualization to use is to ask your child to imagine filling a giant balloon within their tummy with air when breathing in. Then blow the air out slowly like they are trying to blow out all the candles on a birthday cake.
Work on positive thinking
Name their worst-case scenarios and think through together how to sort out the situation if it happens, e.g. ‘I’m worried that we’ll miss the bus.’ ‘What do you think we could do if that happens?’ ‘We could get the next bus’. You could write these down in a book together and review them over time.
We hope this helps any worries your little ones might have fade away