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 last week’s post, Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox Part 1, we started talking in depth about the Children’s 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.
For an overview of what the entire box contains, see Kelly Caleb’s YouTube video.
Anxiety Support System Cards
Inside the envelope we prepared last week, we will include sets of index cards with specific information on them. The first set of cards will include your child’s anxiety support system.
Each card should contain information about one person. Any person included should agree beforehand to be part of the child’s support system so they know what to expect when your child contacts them with anxiety issues.
This person can be a friend their age who understands that they sometimes feel anxious. It can also be an adult who understands. The adult can be a teacher, parent, aunt or uncle, or another supportive adult. There should be a variety of people because no one person can always be available or meet every need your child may have.
The type of information that should be included on each person’s card includes:
Address (not entirely necessary)
Best way to contact (text, email, phone, etc.)
Best days to contact
Best times to contact
Days and times NOT to contact
Anxiety 5 Senses Engagement Cards
Create a card for each sense that the child can use to keep grounded in the present and be calm. Include the following. Suggestions are included, but use examples for your child that work for them.
SIGHT I can look at. Draw or paste pictures of things that are calming and reassuring to the child.
SMELL I can smell. Include a calming scent. Lavender is frequently a good one, but any candle, potpourri, or other objects that are available can be listed.
TASTE I can taste. A calming tea, water, fruit, vegetable, gum. You don’t want to encourage stress eating, but this is an exercise to engage the senses to calm down.
TOUCH I can feel. A soft blanket or stuffed animal, sandpaper for a rough texture, water in a shower or bath.
SOUND I can listen to. Favorite song or playlist with soothing songs that are reassuring and calming or that bring joy.
How to Use the Cards
When your child is feeling an attack of anxiety, they can learn to open their Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox and take out the card collections. They can then go through the different cards and choose one that they believe will work for them at the time.
If they’re feeling too anxious to believe one particular thing will work, have them choose one at random and commit to using the card. This could mean contacting a person who is available at that time and talking to them or using a sense card and diving into the sensation it suggests.
Some of the sense items can be kept in the box, like a small stuffed animal, an essential oil inhaler, sandpaper, a booklet of pictures that make them happy, and other objects.
Your Child’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox
As your child learns to cope with anxiety using mindfulness, they will be more prepared to deal with attacks of anxiety that hit out of the blue. As you help them build their Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox, talk to them about the mindfulness skills they can use on a daily basis that will come in especially handy when they have feelings of anxiety.
It's important to practice mindfulness when not experiencing anxiety so the skills become habits. One fun way to practice mindfulness is to read Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books together.
Come back next week to catch Part 3 of the Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox.
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