Is your child a bit of a nervous Nelly in certain situations? We can totally relate! We’re sharing four easy and practical parenting tips to help calm your kids’ nerves fast. Read on to check them out!
My four-year-old son will talk to just about anybody, but when it comes time for the kids’ sermon every Sunday, I watch as he sits at the front of the sanctuary, looking like he would rather be anywhere else. I think he’s not fond of knowing that all those eyes are on him and the other kids at the front of the church, but he will talk to each of those people individually and on his own terms without hesitation.
Even the most confident child deals with nerves in certain situations. Some kids are unfortunately prone to being nervous or anxious much of the time. Wherever your child falls on the scale of nerves, no parent likes to see his or her child struggle. Below are some tips to try to help calm your kids’ nerves fast.
Parenting tips to help calm your kids’ nerves
- Identify the problem. One of my favorite things my son learned in preschool last year was to “do the turtle” (a PBIS tactic). While the turtle is a behavioral support to deal with anger, I think it easily applies to anxiety, as well. The steps are: 1. Stop, 2. Take a deep breath, and 3. State the problem. This practice in an anxiety situation teaches your child to recognize the signs of anxiety as they arrive, breathe through them, and determine the root of why he is feeling anxious. I have done this myself, and it’s surprising how much I have to root around inside my emotions to figure out specifically why I’m feeling anxious. Once I figure it out, though, I can do something about it!
- Just breathe. There really is something to counting to 10 when you need a break from a stressful situation. Simply breathing does wonders to ease stress and anxiety, and it’s an easy practice to teach your kids. Regularly practicing deep-breathing will allow your child to know just what to do when a case of nerves pops up.
- Explain the physiology of anxiety. Emotions can be scary for young kids. They feel big feelings, and they don’t quite understand what’s going on. If you’ve got a child who asks “Why?” all the time, explain what happens when they feel anxious. Having a better understanding of what is going on inside her body and why may help your daughter better sort through her nerves. Keep it simple, and say something like “Our bodies are really cool! When we feel worried about something, our brains respond by creating a chemical called adrenalin so we are prepared to be strong and fight off whatever is making us worried. By telling our brains everything is okay, we can calm down and stop feeling uneasy. Deep breaths help!” Here is a great description of what happens to your body during anxiety for a little more information to shape your conversation with your child.
- Create an action plan. If there is a certain situation that causes anxiety in your child, sit down together and come up with a plan to ward off the anxiety. Write down the steps and talk through them regularly. If your child, like my son, doesn’t like being in front of a lot of people, perhaps your action plan is a rock in his pocket that he can hold on to when he’s feeling nervous, make eye contact with people he knows in the audience, and sit or stand next to someone he knows well so he is more comfortable.
Helping your child learn coping skills for nerves now will make a big impact on how she handles stress and anxiety for the rest of her life. Don’t forget – in order for these parenting tips to be really effective, your child has to see you positively handle anxiety, too! Why not give some of these tips a try yourself? Let us know how it goes!