Emotional Support
Grounding Techniques for Children with Anxiety

Grounding Techniques for Children with Anxiety

Simple grounding exercises for children can assist to calm the monkey mind and provide immediate relief from anxiety and worries. 

These 5 Grounding Exercises for Kids Can Assist Children in Managing Their Worries

As a parent who suffers from generalized anxiety (particularly when it comes to most aspects of parenting), I am aware of the warning signals to look for in my children – the subtle indications that are all too easy to overlook.

These signals might be mistakenly disregarded or passed off as something else completely by someone who isn’t experienced with anxiety. That’s because they don’t have big blinking signs that say “I’m so worried and anxious” or that my problems are more serious than you believe.

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Adults are better at expressing their feelings because they have the language tools to do so. Children may complain of an upset stomach, a headache, butterflies in their stomach, difficulty focusing or staying focused, or changes in their toilet habits. These feelings are far more complicated and harder to grasp for someone their age.

When a child tells an adult that these things happen, anxiety is typically the first thing that springs to mind.

Anxiety In Children Is Complicated

The body’s “fight or flight” reaction is engaged, and the more often it is activated, the more the body becomes dis-regulated.

New experiences, such as school, major life events such as relocating, the loss of a friend or family member, troubles at home, divorce, and changes in family and friendships, can lead to anxious feelings, changes in behaviour, mood, eating, sleeping, concerns and anxieties, and even shyness.

Any change in a childrens behaviour is obviously concerning to parents, but worry is sometimes ignored as the root reason.

Childhood anxiety is highly high and growing, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Anxiety disorders afflict 25.1 percent of youth aged 13 to 18 in the United States, as well as 40 million people (or 18.1 percent of the population) aged 18 and over.

Diagnosing anxiety can be difficult for parents with children or anyone who work with children in a learning setting.

Before you can work on a solution and use the 5 grounding strategies for kids described in this article, you must first assist the child express their symptoms and feelings, identify the fundamental reason, and detect the possible indications of childhood anxiety.

Anxiety Symptoms in Children

According to specialists from the UCLA Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Supports (CARES) Center, John Piacentini, Ph.D., and Lindsey Bergman, Ph.D., there are three areas you should be aware of when it comes to worry: emotional symptoms, behavioural signs, and physical signs of anxiety.

Anxiety in Children’s Emotional Signs

  • Hypersensitive / Sensitive to a greater extent than typical
  • Excessive weeping or crying more frequently than usual
  • Reactive, grumpy, and/or angry without a good explanation
  • For fear of making a mistake, you’re afraid of taking chances and taking action (even small ones)
  • Extremely jittery before or during examinations, athletic events, or performances, for example.
  • Panic attacks and the fear of panic attacks
  • Worries about things that will happen in the future
  • Phobias and irrational fears
  • Before and during drop-offs, there is a lot of clinginess and a lot of worry.
  • Dreams of losing a parent or a close relative
  • Worries and anxieties keep children from participating in activities and going to school.

Behavioral Signs of Anxiety in Children

  • Asks himself, “What if?” or “What will happen…” on a regular basis.
  • Fearful of engaging in activities, circle time, or class activities.
  • During group work, remains silent or busy; makes excuses to avoid coming to school.
  • Makes reasons to avoid school activities (PE, sharing, public speaking)
  • Avoids social encounters with classmates after school or outside of school hours (after school/weekends) by staying indoors or alone during lunch or recess.
  • When they are away from their parents or loved ones, they get upset or angry.
  • Needs reassurance/praise and is always seeking acceptance from friends, parents, and instructors.
  • Fear of failure causes them to give up before trying new things, humiliating them.

Physical Signs of Anxiety in Children

  • Headaches and gastrointestinal problems are common complaints from the child.
  • Refuses to eat snacks or lunch in public places with classmates at daycare or school.
  • When not in a comfortable “safe” environment, acts distracted, restless, hyperactive, or fidgety.
  • When confronted with unfamiliar or frightening conditions, he or she begins to sweat or shake.
  • Muscle strains as a result of being tight all of the time.
  • Interruptions during the night
  • Having difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Grounding Techniques for Kids to Calm Down and Squash Worries

The ADAA has put up a list of seven things parents and grandparents may do at home to aid a kid who is experiencing anxiety.

  1. Pay attention to what your child is saying. The phrases might be delicate, and you don’t want to miss any signals in what they’re saying – this is when reading between the lines comes in handy.
  2. It is critical for the parent to be cool and tolerant when your child becomes nervous. It might be difficult to remain cool while your child is experiencing strong emotions or throwing a tantrum that is out of character for them, but if you want to teach your child to be peaceful, you must set an example. Using a kind voice, slow body language, and empathy as a leader will go a long way toward helping your child remain calm and speak up about their feelings.
  3. Strengths and qualities, not accomplishments, should be recognised and praised. It may sound cliched, but the small things make a tremendous impact in how our children perceive the world and themselves in it. Are you praising your child for the correct reasons? Do you recognise their characteristics, such as perseverance, hard effort, dedication, and compassion, or their achievements, such as winning a race or receiving an A grade? To improve (growth mindset) your childrens confidence and capacity to trust themselves in the world, you must appreciate who they are and their talents.
  4. Don’t dwell on or punish your childrens faults or lack of growth. Every mistake made by a child (or an adult) is a chance for learning and making better decisions in the future. Children will grow afraid of attempting new things or even getting up in class to answer a question if you focus on penalising mistakes or mishaps.
  5. Keep your options open. Parenting is something you build as you go; it doesn’t have to be flawless, and it will be messy at times. Staying flexible can help you deal with uncertainty and the unexpected, but it’s preferable to wanting to be in charge or have things go your way all of the time.
  6. During difficult times, keep an eye on your expectations. Adaptability is a valuable talent to have because things do not always go as planned. Keep in mind that your child is just that: a child. Instead of becoming detached with punishments (operant conditioning)or harping on mistakes, mishaps, and difficulties, responding with empathy will always provide you connection.
  7. Prepare for periods when difficulties are likely to emerge, such as transitions. Getting ready for school, returning home from school, leaving the playground, running errands, transitioning from playtime to luncheon… these are all transitions and moments when disobedience and harsh responses are most likely to occur. Plan ahead of time to offer warnings when transitions are coming up so you can ease the process and avoid surprising your child. Picture routine cards are especially great for this since they show your child what will happen next, ensuring that there are no surprises.

When you and your child realize that your child is experiencing anxiety, you may apply the 5 GROUNDING TECHNIQUES FOR KIDS to help them organize their emotions, feel in control, become less nervous, and feel grounded.

Grounding Techniques for Kids 

Anxiety, I’ve discovered, is founded in anxieties and fears about future possibilities. You must return to the present moment if you want to gain instant relief from anxiety, and the best method to accomplish this is through a grounding exercise.

Getting back to the present is surprisingly easy, and as someone who suffers from anxiety, this is especially crucial while your child is experiencing a panic attack.

Every stage of these grounding activities challenges your child to engage their senses and pay attention to what is going on around them.

By the time they get to the second, or even third, step, you’ll observe how their shoulders relax, the concern on their faces fades, and the fear has no power over them when they have to focus on what’s in front of them instead of days, months, or years in the future.

How Does the Grounding Technique Work With Children?
Ask the child to complete each of the following steps using their five senses: looking around, hearing, touching, seeing, and experiencing their environment.

Here’s how to do the Grounding Technique for Kids and what you should do:

  1. 5 Things you can see 
  2. 4 Things you can feel 
  3. 3 Things you can hear 
  4. 2 Things you can smell, and 
  5. 1 Thing you can taste

You may repeat these grounding techniques as many times as you need to feel calmer and less nervous, but it’s unlikely that it will take more than two times for you or your child to feel calmer and more at ease.

To employ more senses, move from your backyard to your front yard. Step outdoors, get in the water, remove your shoes, and proceed through these steps to discover what type of serenity and tranquilly washes over the child and soothes their monkey mind that is seeking for huge problems.

A calm down corner is another low-sensory location where your child may practise these grounding strategies while feeling protected, less stimulated, and calmer.

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