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Anxiety In Children: How Parents Can Help

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  • Anxiety In Children: How Parents Can Help

    Anxiety in Children: 10 Ways Parents Can Help
    By Alice Boyes, Ph.D.
    Psychology Today
    January 16 2013

    1. Teach your child physiological strategies.
    For example, teach them to run 1-2 fingers lightly over their lips when they're distressed. Parasympathetic fibers are spread throughout the lips, so touching them stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (For more, see #3 in the attached :acrobat article: 4 Tips for Slowing Down to Reduce Stress).

    2. Teach basic mindfulness.
    For example, listening to the sounds of the birds for one minute before getting up each morning.

    Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

    3. Manage transitions.
    Children generally find transitions difficult e.g., transitions from one caregiver to the another.

    Develop predictable routines for transitions. Help your child reduce their activity and arousal level when a transition is coming up.

    4. Teach the value of positive emotions.
    People flourish when they have at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions.

    Make strategies to increase positive emotions part of your family culture.

    Examples: - playful and fun activities (fun based on what your child likes), expressing gratitude, cultivating awe (of plants and trees, nature, space, the moon etc).

    Increasing positive emotions can help reduce anxiety in children.

    5 Ask your child to share "one thing that went right" at the end of the school day.
    This will help them develop an optimistic cognitive style.

    Quite simply, cognition refers to thinking. There are the obvious applications of conscious reasoning—doing taxes, playing chess, deconstructing Macbeth—but thought takes many subtler forms, such as interpreting sensory input, guiding physical actions, and empathizing with others. The old metaphor for human cognition was the computer—a logical information-processing machine. (You can’t spell cognition without “cog.”) But while some of our thoughts may be binary, there's a lot more to our 'wetware' than 0's and 1's.

    6. Respect your child's innate temperament.
    Examples

    - They're an introvert (and perhaps school is already more social contact than their preferred level. They might need alone time after school)

    - They have passionate interests or they prefer sameness to variety. (Obviously with issues like their diet, their nutrition needs to be considered too).

    - They have a high or low activity level.

    7. Build exercise into your child's day.
    Regular exercise (such as taking a dog for a walk) is important for reducing anxiety in children.

    8. Understand your child's brain.
    Some of the very bright anxious adults I see have subtle (or not so subtle) cognitive issues. For example, their brain may not be very good at keeping multiple instructions in mind, planning, initiating, sequencing, or not "blurting" in tricky social situations.
    When you understand the way your child's unique brain works, you can help them develop skills that will prevent problems in their education and social relationships . A cognitive assessment may be necessary, and psychologists can advise on the types of strategies likely to help your child.

    9. Teach your child how to cope with making mistakes.
    Teach your child how to acknowledge finding something difficult or having made a mistake, and how to talk to themselves kindly about it. Learning self-compassion is an essential skill for reducing anxiety in children.

    10. Cuddle them lots.
    Long cuddles stimulate oxytocin and soothe the anxiety system.

    Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding. Prairie voles, one of nature's most monogamous species, produce oxytocin in spades. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding, and the list goes on.

    Additional reference material from Psychology Today
    Attached Files
    Steve
    TouretteLinks Forum

  • #2
    Re: Anxiety In Children: How Parents Can Help

    This was the best post ever! Our kids need to feel the love. I do alot that most parents don't have to do and I'm super tired at the end of the day but I would literally give anything for my kid to be emotionally stable.

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