This is some helpful advice from Renee Jain, MAPP. Her article is entitled “12 Phrases to calm an Anxious Child”.
Jain Advises Parents To Help A Child Understand, Accept And Deal With Anxiety. This Is An Essential Life Skill, Since None Of Us Can Evade Anxiety Or Stressful Situations Entirely.
“Can you draw it?’’ doodling can be a useful outlet for feelings if kids can’t find the right words.
“I love you. You are safe.” Anxiety makes the mind and body feel as if they are in danger. Hearing that you are safe is very powerful coming from a loving parent.
“Let’s pretend we’re blowing up a giant balloon. We’ll take a deep breath and blow it up to the count of 5.” Being advised to take a deep breath when in the middle of a panic attack can be less than helpful, but making it a game might be novel enough to interrupt the panic. Have fun with the process on the pretend balloon inflation. Three deep breaths and exhalations will usually stop the stress response.
“I will say something and I want you to say it exactly as I do: ‘I can do this.’” Do this 10 times at variable volume. This is a trick borrowed from marathon runners to get past “the wall.”
“Why do you think that is?” Can be helpful for older kids who can express how they feel.
“What will happen next?” To help children think through an anxious event and remember that there will be something positive to look forward to after.
“We are an unstoppable team.” Reassure children that you will work together even if you must be apart from them for a time.
Have a battle cry: “I am a warrior!”; “I am unstoppable!”; or “Look out World, here I come!” The physical act of yelling replaces fear with endorphins. It can be fun, too.
“If how you feel was a monster, what would it look like?” Make something concrete and palpable out of a confusing feeling like anxiety.
“I Can’t wait until_______.” Excitement about the future is contagious.
“Let’s put your worry on the shelf while we_______(listen to your favorite song, run around the block, read this story.) Then we can pick it back up again.” Give your child a chance to rest from the worry bag. Especially when they are anxious about something they cannot change in the future.
“This feeling will pass. Let’s get comfortable until it does.”
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