5 ways to help calm an anxious child

Ever been at a loss to help your child when he or she is anxious?

Helping Hands is brought to you in partnership with COAD4KIDS.

According to Psychology Today there are a few examples that may be signs your child is experiencing anxiety. These include:

  • If your child is excited about going someplace, but then becomes too worried to walk through the door.
  • If your child feels nauseous about performing on stage, trying out for an activity, or taking a test.
  • If your child refuses to get out of the car when he or she doesn’t know anyone.

There are times as parents when we feel helpless, and this could be one of those times. However, Psychology Today is offering a few tips to help in these situations.

  1. Stimulating your child’s vagus nerve (located on both sides of the voice box) can interrupt fight or flight mode and send a signal to his/her brain that “he/she is not under attack”. Experts note a few ways to stimulate this nerve is to chew gum, sing or hum, or even to eat a piece of dark chocolate.
  2. When kids become anxious they likely start to take rapid, shallow breaths. Encourage your child to breathe and take slower, deeper breaths. Trying having them blow bubbles, have a whistling contest with you, or blow into a pinwheel.
  3. Cross the midline. Experts indicate that moving a person’s hands, feet, and eyes across to the other side of the body can help, essentially, reset the brain. Research suggests that when you move your arms or legs across the center of your body, the brain hemispheres are activated and work together so you can think with both logic and emotion, noted Psychology Today. You can encourage your child to do cross marchers where they march in place while touching their opposite knee (right arm touch left knee). Or, have them wipe the table with one hand.
  4. Help your kids narrow their focus by encouraging them to look at one thing, hear one thing, or think about one thing. Research suggests that relaxation can be achieved when they narrow their attention. You can use guided imagery/visualization by asking kids to think of a “happy place,” or “happy symbol.”
  5. Be funny! Research suggests that exposure to something funny can actually cause a significant reduction in anxiety. Try playing a funny game with your child, watching a goofy cartoon together, reading a funny book, or practicing jokes with each other.

To see additional tips recommended by Psychology Today, visit them online. And for more information, including local resources, be sure to visit COAD4Kids.

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