This post isn’t just about stress and anxiety, it’s a post about stress and anxiety in children.
I’m the first one to roll my eyes and brush off dramatic topics concerning children. There are certain theories about parenting, childrens up-bringing and their behaviour that I find outlandish to say the least, however stress management isn’t one of them.
I strongly believe that the ability to handle stress, and keep anxiety at bay is something that can be instilled in children from an early age. Exposure to stresses often begins earlier than we realise, and by the time the heavy stuff happens, most of us have already adopted unhelpful coping mechanisms, such as using stimulants or depressants, having angry outbursts or bottling up our feelings.
Healthier alternatives to handling the difficult situations we all inevitably have to face, are things that should be introduced to children as soon as they are old enough to really engage with the techniques.
The easiest way to incorporate this is to practice deep breathing with them at bedtime, perhaps after a story, encourage them to have some quiet time for relaxation, and lead some breathing exercises for them.
I use guided meditations that are aimed specifically at children, and often use these in place of a bedtime story as they are told in story form, with breathing exercises and visualisations included.
‘New Horizon’ on YouTube do particularly good ones, but there is no limit to the resources available so find some that you child enjoys.
Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. We do, one good thing, one bad thing, and one confusing thing that needs further clarification, each day. I wouldn’t advise doing this activity at bedtime, as it can lead to a lengthy sleep avoidance technique!
Simple ideas like these, incorporated into your routine, will equip them with the skills that they can depend on when life gets challenging.
Managing stress and anxiety is a powerful lesson to teach your children to help them through the ups and downs of life. I really hope you’ll give it a go.