How To Manage Anxiety In 5 Steps (That Work!)
Hey, Heidi Rogers here. Welcome to the 3 Minute Parenting Playbook, where I give you some parenting tips and under 3 minutes.
Today's play ... how do I help my child be less anxious?
Well, first of all, I want to gently reframe that we never get rid of anxiety, we just learn how to manage it. We don't want our kids to be afraid of it, we want them to realize that it's something they have the power within themselves to manage, and that they can listen to it.
The problem is, most kids are missing a script - they don't know what to say to their anxiety when it shows up. So the first thing you want to do in managing anxiety is externalize it, that's number one. You want your child to think of it outside of themselves, and that they can befriend it, you know, that 'we're friends' that 'we can be buddies with them'.
Secondly, we want to teach them where their anxiety comes from ... that it comes from this little guy in their brain called the amygdala. And it's not you who makes you anxious, it's your amygdala. He gets all worried about silly stuff, and he tells you, 'You can't handle it, you're not going to be able to do it'. You know, 'What do you want to name your amygdala? Brian, okay, perfect. Let's name him, Brian'.
Thirdly, we teach our child what we say. And we give them a script, we teach them how to anticipate Brian's appearance where he normally shows up, is it school drop-off, social functions, taking a test, wherever we know that Brian frequents, we plan for that. And then we prepare like a little script of what we say.
So that could be like 'Buddy, you always seem to show up and you tell me I can't do hard things. But you know what, Brian, I've survived 100% of my days, and I've done swimming and walking and learned how to drive and monkey bars', and whatever - all the things that they've done. 'So thanks, buddy, you know, appreciate you being here, but I got it, I can do hard things. Okay?'
And number four, you want to teach them diaphragmatic breathing, aka belly breathing. It is so effective. You can Google it if you want to learn more. It basically just means that on the inhale, you stick your tummy out really far. It feels kind of awkward, but it basically sends a message straight to your amygdala that it's proof that 'I'm calm, see?' ... because you don't breathe like that when you're freaking out, right? You only breathe like that when you're focused and thinking about it. It's a bit conscious to breathe that way.
And number five, you want to always be validating your child's feelings and their experience. Don't try to minimize invalidate or shame them for you know, feeling anxiety. You basically want to validate for them.
'You're feeling anxious, buddy? Yeah, I hear you. Oh, sweetheart. I feel nervous sometimes too. I know ... let's do some belly breathing together and then we're going to practice what we're going to say to Brian, okay?'
I hope that these anxiety tips were helpful and this parenting playbook brought you some info. Look forward to seeing you next time!