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How to help children cope with anxiety

When your child is angry, frustrated or disruptive, they may be experiencing anxiety. Here are some ways to help them cope.

Most children experience anxiety at some stage. It’s perfectly normal for them to feel worried as they deal with the changes and emotions of growing up.

No child will react in the same way to anxiety, and it can be mistaken for anger, frustration and disruptive behaviour. In most cases, the child is not being ‘naughty’ but is finding it difficult to communicate what they are feeling. The crying, running and screaming could be an inability to express what is wrong.


How can I help?

Building a child’s emotional resilience is a useful tool for reducing their frustrations. Providing a toolkit of skills and techniques will help improve their coping skills. Relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, learning to identify emotions and positive role-models are all effective for reducing anxiety in children.

Use these tips as a starting point:


Techniques to try

There are many exercises, games and activities designed to give your child the ability to self-help when they start to feel anxious.Here are a few suggestions to get you started.


Make a Mind Jar 
A mind jar is a simple mix of water and glitter that teaches children to calm their bodies and minds. Engage your child by making a mind jar together and then going through the following process.
  • Shake up the glitter - explain that the swirling colours represent their frustration and anger
  • As they watch the glitter settle, do some deep breathing exercises with them
  • Explain that the settling glitter represents their minds and bodies relaxing.
Full activity instructions >

Books
Reading about characters in a story can give kids a framework for understanding their own feelings. One great example is a book called Hey Warrior by Karen Young which explains anxiety through a relatable character.


Singing
Having a singalong with your child is an excellent way to practise mindfulness and improve mood. One album to try is ‘Passing Clouds’ by mindfulness teacher, Kate Oliver, who has produced songs specifically to educate kids about mindfulness.

Need more help?

If you suspect that anxiety is beginning to interfere with your child’s daily life, it could be time to get extra help.Advice is available by picking up the phone to Parent Line on 1300 1300 52.

Alternatively, take a look at Resourcing Parents NSW for a whole range of information or further parenting tips can be found on the Raising Children Network. CatholicCare also offers parenting programs. Find a Parent Education group that suits your needs. 

Sources:


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The resources in our Parenting HUB are put together by our family specialists who work with families across Sydney every day.  If you would like to know more about this topic, please fill in our 'Contact Us' form and we'll get in touch.  You can also call our professional Parent Line NSW counsellors on 1300 1300 52 for individual advice.

Disclaimer: This article does not give professional advice.  The contents constitute general information of a summary nature of interest and relevance at the time of publication. You should not rely on the contents as professional advice but should seek, formal advice in particular matters relevant to your particular situation.

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