What can parents do to help a child with anxiety?

Touch them…. ground them….let them borrow your calm…..show them “HOW” to handle their feelings. If your child is struggling or whining…STOP what you are doing and try this HOLD and hug your child…this will help to “ground” your child….he/she is off balance….once he/she reclaims her balance…your child will be able to calmly move on.
****But let’s face it…..whining can drive a parent crazy…but we need to understand that whining is COMMUNICATION….it is an immature….childlike.way (but remember she is a child) to ask for help. Your child is trying to communicate that she is feeling overwhelmed…..she needs to “borrow your calm” so she can LEARN HOW to self-regulate her own emotions. Taking 10 or 15 minutes to teach your child to self-regulate is much more helpful then experiencing the dysregulation/overload of emotions……..….and you’ll probably won’t remember what had been so important before or what you had been rushing to anyway.
*TOUCH YOUR CHILD: If your little one is feeling anxious, touching them will initiate the release of neurochemicals that will start a relaxation response. Touching is one of the most healing things we humans can do.
*GROUND YOUR CHILD: You can ground your child by holding them. When a child feels anxious, they feel insecure and out of control. You can help your child feel grounded by holding them…hugging them….research supports that touching and hugging brings on a significant reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol. Body socs/weighted blankets etc are also helpful!
*LET THEM BORROW YOUR CALM: BE a calming influence: Little ones aren’t able to articulate what their body is feeling like…but they know their body needs to be grounded. So although you are busy….stop…..and allow your little one to sit on your lap…cuddle….let them hear your breath…feel your calmness….model it…show them how to relax…..let them feel safe by you showing them that they ARE safe. But remember after a quick cuddle…..allow them to move on and “be brave”….encourage it….you don’t want to inadvertently reinforce their anxiety by giving them something positive (a cuddle) every time they become anxious. Cuddle them, then encourage them to try something that will ultimately move them towards learning an effective response, even if it’s just holding steady and breathing.
*TEACH Teaching self-calming techniques will provide your little ones the skills necessary to calm themselves. Saw this great suggestion in an article: **** First, find your child their very own soft toy pet. Make sure it’s an animal that’s fairly lifelike – a dog or a cat or something else that they would be happy to have against them. If you can get one that’s sleeping, all the better. At bedtime, tell them that the puppy/cat/whatever, let’s say, puppy, has fallen asleep too. Put it in against their tummy or nestle it into the side of them and tell them that they have to try to keep the puppy asleep by breathing and moving very gently so as not to wake it up. This will focus them on their own body and develop their capacity to control their breathing – a valuable skill.
Team them HOW to use breathing techniques: Remember. breathing initiates the relaxation response, a process discovered by Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. When triggered the relaxation response instantly sends out neurochemicals that neutralize the fight or flight response. The relaxation response will decrease blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower pulse rate, reduce the oxygen in the bloodstream and increase alpha brain waves, which are all associated with relaxation.Have your child practice breathing every day so that when he or she is in the midst of anxiety, it will be easier to use effective breathing. Effective breathing comes from the belly, rather than the chest. Have your child practice their strong breathing by placing a soft toy on their tummy when they lie down. If the toy moves up and down, their breathing is perfect.
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