How To Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety and Overthinking
Life can be tricky for young people at this time. Not only do they have pressures from their friends, families and teachers in their own lives to grow into a “successful” human being, if you watch the News or other news-related programs, chances are they are picking up on the unrest and uncertainty that is going on in the outside world. Nothing they can control, but still their in the background feeding anxiety into them.
So what can you do to help?
Well, there are many ways to help children, young people and adults cope more easily with stress, but there are one or two techniques that I’ve found myself using a lot recently and that you might like to try with your youngsters. I’ll share the technique and then explain a little of why it works.
“Peace begins with me”
Sit in a quiet place with your child, put on some relaxing music and ask them to sit comfortably on the floor or the sofa with you. Together, take a deep breath in, then breathe out slowly for longer than you breathed in. You might like to count it “1-2-3-4 in, hold, 1-2-3-4-5-6 out” to get them started, but let them breathe at a pace that is comfortable for them.
Next, while they are breathing slowly, you can both do a hand exercise. Take your thumb and touch one of the fingers of the same hand like this…
PEACE – Thumb and forefinger
BEGINS – Thumb and middle finger
WITH – Thumb and ring finger
ME – Thumb and little finger.
It might help if they say the words out loud to begin with, then they can internalise the thought once they are used to it. Carry on repeating until you notice a change in their body or breathing, and/or until you feel more relaxed. Doing this for just a minute or so will help, but longer to begin with could be helpful until your bodies get used to relaxing.
Anxiety and overthinking don’t just affect the mind. The body and mind are in sync, and whilst the mind can “run away” with itself it’s also causing tension in the body. So we can treat both at the same time with these techniques.
Without getting too technical, slowing down and focussing on the breath takes the mind off worries and diverts it to think about and control the breathing. This helps to change chemicals in the body and relax the muscles, so you feel better both mentally and physically.
The Peace Begins With Me part stems from yogic practise, in which it is believed that holding a combination of fingers together has a positive effect on corresponding areas of the body.
For me it has the added benefit of diverting my mind further as I think about which finger/thumb to put together, and that relaxes me too.
It’s also something you can do anywhere, in a crowd, under a desk, in the car, and no-one will notice.
Both techniques have also been recommended for people suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.
Why not give these ideas a try, either on your own or with your children, and see how you get on? You might find you both benefit from some quiet moments…
For other ways to lead and support your children please do take a look at my children’s story book “Daphne and the Smiley Shells” which is designed to help your child develop a Growth Mindset, greater Resilience and increase their self confidence.
Vicki Tongeman is a Wife, Mother, Artist, Teacher, Author and Coach. She lives on the beautiful shores near the New Forest and loves walking and being mindful on the beach and in nature. Her friends call her the “Magic Mermaid” as she combines life changing coaching techniques with a sprinkle of Mermaid Magic!
As an NLP Practitioner and personal coach Vicki is passionate about helping people develop their inner self confidence and achieve their goals.