How to help your child with anxiety
What you will learn:
- How to take care of your child’s mental health
- Products that can help to improve your child’s mental wellbeing
When it comes to taking care of our children’s mental health, it is often difficult to know where to start. Physical health is easy. We make sure they brush their teeth, we are aware of the dangers of too much screen time and we understand the benefits of a healthy diet. It’s engrained in us to know what to do. But taking care of our children’s mental health is not always so easy to get your head around.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention anxiety in children is on the increase, with as many as 9.4% of children aged between 3 and 17 being diagnosed with anxiety between the period of 2016-2019. With the impact of Covid-19, it is possible that these figures are now significantly higher.
Anxiety can show in children in many ways.
For example, through separation anxiety when leaving their primary caregiver, the development of phobias and social anxiety which may cause them difficulties in feeling comfortable with going to school, or socialising with their peers.
The good news is, in the same way that brushing our children’s teeth will ensure good oral hygiene and a healthy diet and physical lifestyle will maintain good physical health, there are steps that you can take to ensure the mental health of your child is taken care of too.
An active lifestyle and healthy eating, not only promotes good physical health but they are vital for a healthy mind too.
Through the release of endorphins, exercise can increase self-confidence, improve the quality of sleep and reduces anxiety. Increasing the exercise levels of our children does not have to mean signing up to expensive fitness club memberships, or spending hours running laps of a nearby field.
Not at all. Any activity that encourages your children to get on their feet and move, are all positive steps for improving mental wellbeing. Simply getting out and playing football in the garden, helps to encourage an active lifestyle.
Original Den Kits
For those who are feeling more adventurous, the Original Den kits are a great way of encouraging your children to get out into the great outdoors and promotes exercise. What’s more, it is fun activity you can do together so it has the added bonus of improving your mental wellbeing too! It encourages the development of resilience through the challenge of building a stable and usable structure and it gives your children the opportunity to problem solve.
The introduction of mindfulness and meditation is another area that has been shown through research to actively improve the mental health of children.
According to Mindful.org, mindfulness in children not only improves mental wellbeing but it builds resilience in helping them to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
In its simplest form, mindfulness connects you to your surroundings and aims to make you aware of what you are feeling, what you are hearing and simply being in that moment.
Soulmates Yoga Mat
Similar to the den building, this is an activity you can do with your child. The Soulmates Yoga mat is the ideal size for children aged six and over and can be used as a space where they can comfortably practice mindfulness.
There are a range of simple techniques to get started.
For example, laying down on the mat and placing a teddy or a toy on their belly.
Allow them to watch their teddy simply rise and fall with their breathing.
As simple as this activity may seem, it allows your child to focus on connecting with their breathing which is a fundamental part of mindfulness training.
Other exercises for a mindfulness beginner could be for your child to practice tightening and relaxing their muscles.
Starting with their toes and working there way all the way to the muscles in the face, simply clenching and unclenching.
Not only does this allows for the child to be present in the moment, it helps them to begin to recognise when they are tense and holding onto stress in everyday situations so they can learn to release and relax.
Book of Beasties
As much as these physical activities go a long way to helping an anxious child, sometimes simply giving your child the space to talk about their feelings, helps to reduce the built-up feelings of anxiety.
Knowing how to start that conversation, is somehow not always that easy.
Being open and honest is usually a good starting point to encourage a conversation.
Give your child the time to open up, away from distractions. If you feel like you need some help with how to generate these conversations, the Book of Beasties is an early intervention card game for children, that aims to encourage open and positive conversations abouts mental health and wellbeing.
Through gameplay, creativeness and physical exercises, it helps to get the conversation flowing and supports in the development of the skills useful in coping with situations that are often associated with depression or anxiety.
Supporting a child with anxiety is not always easy, but taking a few simple and positive steps, can go a long way in helping them to learn effective coping mechanisms to promote positive mental wellbeing.