In one of my quests of finding more tips and ways to deal with my crippling anxiety, I came across quite a few articles that spoke particularly on how kids also suffer from anxiety. I found out that 1 in 3 children have anxiety and possible behaviour problems, this is from age 2 to 17.
As an adult I am barely coping, I cannot begin to imagine what a 2 year old would be going through while they don’t even have an idea what is happening to them and not knowing how to ask for help. After reading up on such articles it occurred to me that anxiety is more common in children than I actually expected.
It can be quite confusing for a parent raising a child with anxiety in terms of not knowing how to treat them or how to help them identify their triggers. Kids act out almost all the time but finding that fine line between them throwing a tantrum and them actually having a panic attack is incredibly difficult.
This is where you need to monitor their behaviour and moods when around certain people or at certain places and even when they are doing different activities. This is the first step you need to take before going to the doctor to seek out a professional opinion, to confirm your suspicions if I can put it that way. I have a 11 year old niece who also suffers from anxiety, she is very irritable and gets angry so quickly .
I have never seen a child worry like she does also it affects her level of concentration when it comes to school work but at the beginning we all thought it is normal at her age but we got to realize at a much later stage that it is more intense. After a few out of control out bursts and her crying all the time for little or no reason at all, I started seeing myself in her and made my sister aware before we took the matter under advisement with the GP. Imagine how hard it is for such a child to play with others because of her unstable emotions.
My first instinct as her aunt was to shield and protect her, limiting her interactions with large groups of children or unfamiliar faces which made no sense as she had to be able to adapt for the purpose of school. With that in mind I had to find ways to help her cope besides the medication of course.
This is when I found these activities she could do with her siblings and friends to help her manage the symptoms while interacting and engaging with her peers.
There are quite a number of interesting ones that I found but I narrowed the list down to top 3 :
1. Emotional Stress Ball Balloons.
I found this very interesting and exciting because it teaches your child about different emotions. This is basically balloons filled with flour with different facial expressions drawn on them.
All you need for them is same colour balloons, flour, a funnel and a black permanent marker.
How to make them :
You need to insert your funnel into the opening of the balloon, you may need to stretch it out a little then scoop flour into it. Shake it down until it is filled and tie a knot then draw a face with your black marker. Repeat the steps until you have a few different faces on your balloons, you can get create and add any extras to make it fun.
How to use them:
Now all you have to do is go over through them with your kids telling them which balloon represents which emotion. For example a smiley face is for being happy or a frowning face is for being sad.
You can keep these and everyday after school maybe get your child to pick a balloon that represents how they are feeling for the day.
2. Chill out glitter jar.
This a very creative way to teach your child about mindfulness. It gives them time to calm down and focus on what is going on around them.
Watching glitter swirl all the way to the bottom of the jar will gave them time to regain control of their feelings and calm down, it shifts their focus from the anger, sadness and stress.
It is easy to make you just need a jar (plastic or glass) with tight lids or plastic water bottles, 1/2 cup glitter glue, distilled water and hot glue gun.
How to make it :
- Pour 1/2 cup of distilled water into the jar or bottle.
- Let your kids pour 1/2 cup of glitter glue into the jar or bottle.
- Fill up the remainder of the jar or bottle with distilled water.
- Use the hot glue gun to squeeze a circle of glue around the lid of the jar and press it onto the jar then secure the lid.
- Shake the jar well a few times to distribute the glitter and let it rest overnight.
How to use it:
When it is all ready get your child to sit down comfortably make them flip the jar and let them focus on the swirl of the glitter as it sinks while breathing in and out. As the glitter settles and the water clears they will be much more in control of their emotions.
3. Calming count box
This one also helps with mindfulness and helping your child to remain calm when they feel stressed or overwhelmed.
You don’t need too many supplies and nothing expensive to me it just a tissue box with and pompom balls.
How to make it :
Cut out a hole on the lid of the box big enough for the pompom balls to fit.
How to use it:
To use this let your kids place both the box and balls on a table,let them count as they place each ball into the box while taking a deep breath. After that they can start taking out same colour balls placing them on the table in their groups.
Now they are focused on the task at hand and are having fun. Every time they are having a moment reach for the box and let the counting begin.
These are fun ways to teach your kids how to control their emotions and the art of breathing which is very important when dealing with anxiety.
I hope you will try them out and find them helpful. Do share more of your ideas in the comments section for everyone who might need them.