Please enjoy this guest post by Jennifer Kogan, a local social worker and therapist. Great ideas for helping kids manage their intense feelings as the pressures of school begin in earnest!
It can be challenging to support your child sometimes if they are wired to be a little on the anxious or intense side. These periods of overwhelm often strike without warning. Sleepovers, tests, teams, all these can trigger anxiety or upset which can lead to worry, sleep problems, and general stress.
As parents, it can be hard to hold these emotions because it just feels like too much sometimes. Or, it could be that our own anxiety gets activated which can make it doubly hard to contain a set of charged feelings. But there are ways to tackle this very common problem. Below is a mind – body toolkit to support kids with their intense feelings:
- Images and imagery are wonderful tools to help children calm down and relax. Ask your child to think of a picture of an animal or a place or something that helps her relax. You can remind your child to think of this image when they are feeling stressed.
- Try belly breathing together so your child can practice relaxing his or her body. Once they get the hang of it they can learn to breathe through an anxious or upset feeling.
- There are also many wonderful guided imagery CDs your child can listen to practice relaxing and feeling calm.
- Create or buy a feelings chart so you and your family can talk about all the feelings you may have had in a given day. Read stories like My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss or The Feelings Book by Todd Parr so your child can develop their feelings vocabulary.
- Ask your child to draw how he or she feels so they can get some of it out and down on paper.
- Try role playing – a great way for kids to act out their concerns. Parents and even
siblings can act out a problem to its resolution. This is especially useful with separation issues, school issues, bullying/cliques.
Research shows that telling the story of what happened can help a child process and let go of a stressful incident. Developing a vocabulary of feeling words and creating space to calm down the mind and body will help support you and your child. Each time your child tries out one of these tools, his or her brain will be learning new ways to cope with their intense feelings.
–Posted by Jennifer Kogan