Is your child always anxious and worried? Does he/she always seem to be worrying about something? Many times, these anxious children tend to be very responsible and tend to be perfectionists. They worry about the consequences and over trivial things that they seem to forget to live in the present moment. This may ultimately lead to defiance as they are unable to take the stress. As a parent, what can you do to help them?
- Teach them how to meditate. Most adults tend to chunk meditation and yoga together. Yet this method of slow and deep breathing would teach your child to control their anxiety. In order to breathe deeply, ask them to take a deep breath very slowly and deep into their belly to a count of 5. Once filled, let your child breathe the air out to a count of 5 once more. You can show them Youtube videos which show how to do this diaphragmatic breathing.
- Explain the Fight-or-Flight Syndrome. You will be surprised at how quickly children pick things up and apply in their lives when taught. Many children tend to react spontaneously out of fear or habits to situations, both familiar and unfamiliar. You can show them a picture of a tiger and ask about their likeliest response upon seeing one. This brings about a moment when you can ask them to predict what happens if they are to walk away calmly from the tiger instead. There are some Youtube videos which show how some African hunters walked calmly to a pack of lions to steal their food – frightening the lions instead!
- Banish Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS). Do you have ANTS too? Many parents can be quite pessimistic and often have these thoughts in their heads whenever they encounter something they are not confident of. Unknowingly, they will use negative words to put themselves down. Who would be watching them? Yes! Their child! Sooner or later, their child would begin to have ANTS to put themselves too! Typical ANTS may be: “Nothing ever goes my way,” “I’m a loser because everyone else thinks I am,” or “I’m a failure.” The parent needs to model how to change these thoughts to positive ones by verbalising them such as “If I keep practicing, I’ll get better,” or “Even if I make a mistake, I can learn and do better the next time,” constantly. Once the child believes in them, his/her anxiety levels will be reduced.
Hug your child. Yes, that’s right. Have you hug your child today? Research has shown that human contact tends to calm anxiety levels very efficiently. This creates a ‘safe’ zone where the child feels safe within. In fact, it is recommended that everyone should hug at least once a day to feel happier!
- Exercise.In fact, all he/she needs to do is to take a ten minute walk out in the park. It is no secret that exercise reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins. It also leads to an increase in activity levels in the serotonergic system, which may help to decrease anxiety and improve mood. If your exercise has been moderate to intense, the increased body temperature would reduce the muscle tension, thereby affecting the experience of anxiety.