Saturday, 31 January 2015

Working with worry in children

If you are a parent, the last thing you want for your child is to experience extreme worry or anxiety, as if you have experienced it yourself, you will know it can really take the joy out of life.
I see one or two children a month with worry issues and also see many adults who still carry the scars from the worries of their youth. Common triggers for worry in children include exams, falling out with friends and dealing with peer pressure.  Some are also perfectionist type personalities who beat themselves up if they don’t perform perfectly in everything they do.
A good way to help your child relax is by getting them to do a simple breathing technique. Get them to breathe in for the count of 7 and out for 11 half a dozen times, this helps lower the heart rate. Remember they a little genius and a brilliant learner so they can master new techniques very quickly.
Getting children into good states is the way to make change. If they are anxious and they want calmness, ask them to think of a place they felt very happy and relaxed and calm.  If it was a nice day at the beach last summer, ask them to close their eyes and remember the relaxing day and that they are there again. What can they see? The sand the sea and waves and seagulls. What can they smell and what can they feel? From the temperature in the air to the grains of sand in their hands and under their feet. You might even suggest they wrap that relaxed, happy feeling all over them like an invisible cloak. Repeating this process will help change their neurology and thus help break the predicted response.
Making them laugh is also a good way to change their state. When they can bring humour and laughter back we know that’s a good sign and when they are giggling and happy it is a wonderful opportunity to give them extra hugs to reinforce the good state.
It is important not to blame yourself as a parent. However, our children can pick up many of our good habits and therefore they can also pick up our bad ones. Sometimes in a family both the child and adult need help and would benefit from learning new strategies to deal with worry and stress.

When we have a negative thoughts or negative beliefs about ourselves it can change our brain chemistry; more bad thoughts lead more bad thoughts.  I often give children tips on how to stop the negative thoughts and show them they can have an influence on them. I get them to think of times when things were OK or when they sorted out another problem, or get them to recount a time when they thought they would never master something such as riding a bike or a PlayStation game or times table test.  I do also teach those children who are very stuck the Lightning Process, to train them to recognise and interrupt negative thought patterns to influence  and change their thoughts and feelings

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