Anxiety: Part II

The most comforting thing for kids is routine.  Routines make life predictable and this predictability is especially important for kids who experience anxiety.  Anxious kids do not like surprises.  Establish routines around bedtime and getting ready in the morning. It’s a good idea to post these where kids can see them and refer to them.  It also helps them to become more independent.  Here is a sample of what a routine chart might look like. Taking pictures of your child doing these tasks may be fun! (It didn’t format quite right but I think you get the picture.)

7:45  Get dressed

7:55  Make bed

8:05  Eat breakfast

8:30 Brush teeth

etc…….

Deep belly breathing is a skill that is never too early to learn and it helps reduce anxiety.  A younger child can take a deep breath in through his/her nose and then pretend that he/she is blowing bubbles, trying to blow the biggest bubble possible.  As the child is inhaling, he/she should focus on filling his/her belly and feel it rising.   Another way to encourage deep breathing is to have your child pretend to blow up a balloon slowly.  Older children can do “square” breathing.  They inhale into their bellies to the count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4 , hold for 4, and this completes one “square”.  They can do this as many times as needed.

Initially, trying to have your child do deep breathing while he/she is experiencing anxiety is not advisable.  It is something that should be practiced when the child is calm and a good time to practice this breathing is when the child is in bed.  It can be part of the bedtime routine and serves 2 purposes: to practice the breathing and it also calms the child, making it easier to fall asleep.

Anxious children often have difficulty falling asleep.  There are several books with guided meditations for children that can be done with them at bedtime.  Moonbeams: A Book of Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth is one such book that I have used.

Let me know how this works for you.

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