At our General PAC meeting on Wednesday, November 27 2013, Ellen Shumka, from Anxiety BC (website: anxietybc.com) gave a comprehensive talk on how anxiety can affect our children, and how to help them through their bouts of anxiety.
Below are summaries and links to some resources which may be helpful to you as parents/guardians:
What is Anxiety?
Why is it important to learn about anxiety?
Most people do not recognize their anxiety for what it is, and instead think there is something “wrong” with them. Some people are preoccupied with the physical symptoms of anxiety, e.g., stomach aches, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, etc. Others think they are weird, weak, or even going crazy!
Unfortunately, these thoughts only make people feel even more anxious and self-conscious. Therefore, the first step to successfully managing anxiety is to learn to understand and recognize it. Self-awareness is essential.
For more facts on anxiety, how to recognize it, and how it affects our bodies, go to:
Healthy Habits in the Home
Anxious children and teens prefer to have a sense of control in their lives. They do not cope well with a disorganized, "spontaneous" family style. They feel calmer when:
· life is predictable
· they know what is expected of them
· they know what the consequences will be
Two ways to help make life more predictable for everyone in the family are setting limits and creating routines.
For more info on setting limits and creating routines, go to:anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/hm_habits.pdf
Helping your child cope with “Back-to-School Anxiety”
Anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change. This is especially true for children and teens going back to school, or for first-timers starting kindergarten. This transition can be stressful and disruptive for the entire family! Prior to the first day of school, your anxious child may cling, cry, have temper tantrums, complain of headaches or stomach pains, withdraw, and become sullen or irritable.
For a list of common worries, how to deal with them, and how to assist your child in getting ready for school, go to: anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/CopingwithBacktoSchool.pdf
Talking to your Child or Teen about Anxiety
There are three steps to introducing the topic of anxiety to your child:
Step 1: Encouraging your child to open up about any fears and worriesStep 2: Teaching your child about anxiety
Step 3: Helping your child recognize anxiety
For more info, go to:anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/TalkingtoYourChildaboutAnxiety.pdf
How to teach your child “Calm Breathing”
What is “calm breathing”?Calm breathing is a technique that teaches your child to slow down his or her breathing when feeling stressed or anxious.
Why is calm breathing important?When your child is feeling anxious, his or her breathing will change. When we are anxious, we tend to take short, quick, shallow breaths or even hyperventilate. This type of anxious breathing can actually make the feeling of anxiety worse!
Doing calm breathing can help lower your child’s anxiety, and give him or her a sense of control. Calm breathing is a great portable tool that your child can use when feeling anxious, especially in situations when you are not there to help him or her through it.
Techniques for calm breathing for both children and teens, can be seen at:anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/calm_breathing.pdf