Updated: Sep 19
Are you the parent, teacher, or therapist of a child who suffers from anxiety? If so, there are many things you can do to help your child learn to mindfully cope with their anxiety.
In this and the next two posts, we’re going to go in depth about one method called the Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox. Just like Now Cow helps Drama Llama learn to control her feelings of anxiety in Kelly Caleb’s entertaining and informational book, this Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox will help your child get a handle on their feelings of anxiety.
The entire contents can be placed in a shoebox-sized plastic tub or even in an actual shoebox. Either way, allow your child to decorate the box in any way they want to. It’s important that their box be entirely theirs. You will, of course, help with the contents, but they must feel a strong sense of ownership over their box.
For an overview of what the entire box contains, see Kelly Caleb’s YouTube video.
Preparation is Key
Why create an Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox in the first place? Well, as Kelly Caleb says, you prepare for other catastrophic events in life such as tornadoes, fires, and similar events. You run drills and practice, knowing that the event could eventually happen. You practice so that your body automatically knows what to do when the event happens.
By creating and practicing using the Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox, your child will be prepared when anxiety hits. Rather than defaulting to a panicked state of meltdown, they will be prepared to take out their box and pull out the contents, prepared to deal positively with their feelings.
Labeling the Anxiety Coping Skills Envelope
Have your child label the envelope that will hold the cards (more later on the cards) in a way that is meaningful for them. Start with “When I feel anxious…” and have them add other words that describe how they feel when they feel anxious. Some words might be worried, scared, afraid, nervous, restless, panicked, uncertain, lost, or others.
Some of these words may not be right for your child, and they may have other words that describe how they feel when they have an attack of anxiety. Have them write down what they feel and what makes sense for them.
Then have them draw a self-portrait of when they are feeling anxious. This may be kind of dark, but don’t discourage them from being honest and real in their self-portrait. This is their box and should reflect their feelings. They know what their feelings look like to them.
Inside the envelope will be a number of index cards with crucial coping information on them. We’ll begin to talk about those cards in depth next week, and discuss more of them in the following weeks.
Your Child’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox
When your child has information at their fingertips that reminds them of what they have learned about mindfulness and how to handle feelings of anxiety, they will be better able to deal with feelings of anxiety. But it’s not just the possession of the box that will benefit them.
Practicing the mindfulness skills held within the box will be important. As we discuss the contents of the box, begin to practice mindfulness activities with your child. You can use Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books as a guide if you want a fun way to do so. We’ll see you next week with Part 2 of the Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox and the following week with Part 3.
Operation Jack’s Village
If you’re a parent, therapist, teacher, or another caregiver of adolescents, we invite you to check out Operation Jack’s Village—an organization that focuses on a comprehensive approach to adolescent suicide awareness and prevention. Help your adolescents survive, thrive, and soar.