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Practical Tools to Teach Your Child to Self-Regulate When Feeling Anxious

As a parent, helping your child navigate through feelings of anxiety can be challenging. Anxiety in children is more common than you might think, and equipping them with tools to manage these emotions early on can make a significant difference in their well-being. As a Counseling Psychologist specialising in child anxiety, I often work with families to develop practical strategies that empower children to self-regulate during anxious moments. Here are some effective tools that you can use to support your child:


1. Deep Breathing Exercises:

Teaching your child deep breathing techniques can be incredibly powerful. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, focusing on filling their belly with air and then slowly exhaling. This simple exercise helps activate the body's relaxation response, calming their mind and reducing physical symptoms of anxiety.


Here are some helpful YouTube videos to watch along with your child:



2. Mindfulness Activities:

Introducing mindfulness practices can teach your child to observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Simple activities like guided imagery, body scans, or mindful colouring can help them stay grounded in the present moment and manage overwhelming emotions.


Take a look at these YouTube videos for helpful mindfulness activities:


3. Create a Calm Down Kit:

Put together a "calm down kit" with items that soothe your child when they feel anxious. This could include sensory items like stress balls or textured objects, comforting items like a favourite blanket or stuffed animal, and activities like colouring books or puzzles that can relax them.


4. Encourage Positive Self-Talk:

Help your child recognise and challenge negative thoughts by promoting positive self-talk. Teach them to replace anxious thoughts with affirmations or reassuring statements such as "I can handle this" or "I am safe." This practice builds resilience and empowers them to confront their fears.


5. Teach Problem-Solving Skills:

Anxiety often stems from feeling overwhelmed by problems or uncertainties. Teach your child simple problem-solving techniques, such as breaking down tasks into smaller steps or brainstorming solutions together. This helps them feel more in control and capable of managing challenges.


6. Seek Professional Support When Needed:

If your child's anxiety persists or significantly interferes with their daily life, consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional who specialises in working with children. They can provide personalised strategies and support tailored to your child's needs.


By incorporating these practical tools into your child's daily life, you can help them build resilience and develop lifelong skills for managing anxiety. Remember, every child is unique, so experiment with different techniques to discover what works best for your child. With patience, encouragement, and support, you can empower your child to navigate their anxiety with confidence and resilience. Together, we can foster a healthier, happier future for our children.


Warm wishes,

Megan



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