Hello again, lets dive into talking about the most common and most treatable issue, Anxiety. Anxiety is a combination of worry and stress, a feeling of dome and dread. But let’s remember that worry can be healthy and helpful, and stress can also be healthy and helpful. For example, if we worry about doing well on a test or project it will make us study, prepare and work harder on it. This is good and it pushes us to do our best and succeed.
Worry and fear can also save your life, an example of this is worrying about being hit by a car so we look both ways before crossing the street. So, you see in these cases worry is not always bad. Stress can also be good, a couple of examples would be competing in a game or going on a first date. This type of stress is good stress, it keeps you alert and aware. We need to teach kids that stress and worry are not always negative or bad. We live in a society where everyone wants to feel happiness all the time with no stress, worry, or difficult times. This is not possible! We must learn and teach kids to work through this when it pops up throughout our lives.
However, there are times when worry and stress come together and causes interference in daily life, this is anxiety. The good news is that anxiety is very treatable.
Here are some ways to help an anxious child:
- Recognize the fear is real to them
- Never disregard or minimize their fear
- Do not cater to fears
- Teach the child how to rate their fear – This helps them see the fear as less intense than first imagined
- Teach coping strategies/skills- breathing exercises, art activities, fidget toys, get up and get moving, sensory paths, chill corner, have “break” cards to use when child needs a break
Here are some things NOT to say:
- Calm down
- Why are you so upset?
- You are overreacting
- Quit overthinking
- There is nothing to worry about
Schools tend to do a good job of teaching kids’ algebra, English, etc., but need to improve greatly at teaching kids about themselves. They need to be taught about their feelings, emotions, coping skills, self-regulation, self-esteem and being aware of their mental health.
One of my favorite and most accurate quotes sums up the idea that to make incidents preventable, we need to study them, determine the cause, and then put corrective actions in place. Anxiety can be predictable, and we can learn strategies and skills to put in place to self-regulate and calm down.
“What is predictable is preventable.”Gordon Graham
Martha Hollingsworth, LPC