Treating Children

Childrens’ mental health

Fear, worry and anxiety are part of growing up. Children come across new experiences and situations that can bring on different emotions. These feelings motivate children to take action – to perform well and avoid danger.

For some children, feelings of anxiety come more easily, more often and grows so big. This anxiety becomes a road block to learning, play, sleep and enjoyment. When the natural survival response is to fight – flight – freeze children react in different ways if they believe they are in danger.

Fight

  • Crying, yelling, full blown temper tantrums
  • Throwing and destroying things
  • Hitting others

Flight

  • Running out of the classroom
  • Constantly getting up from their seat
  • Fidgeting and restlessness

Freeze

  • Looking out the window in class
  • Shutting down and not responding or paying attention
  • Daydreaming

Separation Anxiety

  • Being away from parents
  • Being away from home

Performance anxiety

  • Getting in trouble
  • Asking Questions

Social phobia

  • Bullies
  • Making friends

Specific phobia

  • Monsters
  • Loud noises
  • Natural disasters
  • Creatures
  • Heights

Riding the wave of anxiety

Imagine that anxiety is a wave in the ocean that gradually rises, reaches a peak and then levels out and comes back down, as it washes back into the shore.

When children are feeling calm and happy, they are in the green zone of the wave. As their feelings become more and more intense, they enter the yellow zone, before their feelings build and build inside them like the peak of the wave, the red zone.

When children are in the red zone, their alarm system is on. Their brains are reacting as if they are in danger (fight – flight – freeze). This means that reasoning and problem solving with children who are in the red zone is really hard work and is often not successful.

As parents, we can help kids surf big and small waves of their feelings back to calm shores rather than it washing over them. We can give you the tools to help calm children’s brains to a level where they can think more clearly.      

Coaching children with anxiety.

Anxiety overwhelms children’s brains and bodies with feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, guilt, worry, sadness. Research has found that children with a parent who coached their children with their feelings had a positive impact on their behaviour, social relationships, health and academic performance.

With practice, children get better at dealing with their feelings on their own with the help of an emotion coach!

Three EAR Emotion coaching tips

1. Tune in with your full attention by un-plugging from other distractions. Connect by staying physically close.

2. Acknowledge and Accept. Resist the temptation to say “stop or don’t worry,” and avoid judgments.

3. Respond by Naming it. Labelling the emotion (fear, worry, embarrassment) helps tame the feeling and calm the brain.  

We’re going into the ocean, take a deep breath…

Research shows that even children can be taught mindfulness skills at a young age. Mindfulness  can improve your child’s attention skills and help them be more aware of their bodies. We can be creative and use tools like pictures, movement, food and objects to help them focus their attention. Try this Mindfulness Starfish.

1

We’re going into the ocean, take a deep breath!

2

Show me your starfish! Spread your fingers out like a starfish on one hand.

3

Take your finger from the other hand and trace around your starfish.

4

Keep going, tracing around your starfish, until you feel calm and relaxed.

How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish provides simple, easy to follow tools in communicating with children that engages their co-operation and helps them with their emotions. This book offers practical ways we can respond to challenging child behaviours, that build relationships whilst respecting both the needs of children and parents.

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