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.
For the past two weeks, we have been talking in depth about the Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox. In Part 1, we introduced the box and in Part 2, we described some of the cards your child can use in times of anxiety. Just the way Now Cow helps Drama Llama learn to control her feelings of anxiety in Kelly Caleb’s entertaining and informational book, the Children’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox will help your child take control of their feelings of anxiety.
For an overview of what the entire box contains, see Kelly Caleb’s YouTube video.
Last week, we discussed cards related to people who can support your child and the senses they can use to help them calm down. This week, we will talk about the rest of the cards you can include in the toolbox. The activity cards list things your child can do to help them calm down. There are two:
Something I can do by myself to be calm. On this card, list activities that help your child feel calm and that they can do by themselves. Ideas include reading, writing in their journal, taking a walk, taking a nap, singing, dancing, or any other activity they like doing on their own that helps them calm down.
An activity I can do with others to be calm. On this card, list activities that help your child feel calm that they can do with others. Some may be the same as activities they do on their own. For example, they may like to dance or sing with friends. Others will be different. They may like to swim, ride bikes, play a game, or have a long talk.
The HALT cards remind your child to check in with their bodies. Are they…
Hungry? If so, eat something. Write ideas for a healthy snack they could eat to feel better.
Angry? If so, they might want to journal about their feelings, call a friend, take a walk, do meditation, or practice deep breathing.
Lonely? If so, they should call a friend, go somewhere they can be with people like the gym or a park, or hit up OJV on social media.
Tired? If so, take a nap or go to bed early.
What’s One Thing?
Now that you have used your coping skills, what's one thing you can do to make the situation better? Not completely resolve it, not change someone else, but one thing that you could do to remove the negativity that might be contributing to the situation. It can be as simple as stopping negative self-talk, giving yourself a break, cleaning one part of your room, journaling, or taking responsibility for your words and actions. This should be a blank card in the toolbox that is replaced each time your child uses it that is simply titled “What’s one thing…? (my words and actions, not someone else’s)”
Strengths and Dreams
These cards are included to remind your child that they have amazing strengths and dreams even when they are feeling down about themselves.
Everyone has things they are good at and they are usually related to something they like to do. If your child isn’t sure what their strengths are, have them ask family members or friends to get a list going to make their strengths card, titled “My strengths are…”
For the dreams card, have your child dream big! The sky is the limit. If they had unlimited funds and abilities and support, what would they do? Title the card “What are my dreams? What are the wildest and most outrageous dreams I have for the future?”
Your Child’s Anxiety Coping Skills Toolbox
Now that you and your child have finished building their Children’s Anxiety Skills Coping Toolbox, it’s important to practice the mindfulness skills that they will use when anxiety hits out of the blue.
Practice using their senses, choosing an activity, contacting a friend or adult loved one, or using the other skills listed on the cards in the box when they are not having an attack of anxiety. They will then be more prepared to use the skills when they do have an anxiety attack. One fun way to practice some mindfulness skills is to read Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books together.
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.