Adults aren't the only ones with worries. Children worry about a lot of things, such as getting good grades, making friends, or winning a competition. Some even have big worries, like world events they may have learned about on the news or in school. While a little worrying is normal, if your child seems constantly worried about things she needn't be, you can ease fears and anxiety by engaging her in healthy activities that can help her cope and release the worry altogether. '
Read books with your child about other worrywart kids and how they were able to overcome their fears. For children as young as 3, "Mr. Worry" by Roger Hargreaves, part of the Mr. Men series of books, tells the story of Mr. Worry meeting a wizard who takes his worry away. For kids ages 6 and up, "Wilma Jean the Worry Machine" by Julia Cook offers children ways to handle worry through the humorous worrywart character Wilma. Another book for that age group is "What to Do When You Worry Too Much" by Dawn Huebner, which provides kid-friendly advice on how to handle worry and anxiety.
Engage your child in activities that help her address something she is worried about and either get rid of it or learn to look at it from a new perspective. Psychologist Tamar Chansky, author of "Freeing Your Child from Anxiety," suggests a "worry glasses" exercise. Give your child two pairs of plastic novelty glasses. Have her put the worry glasses on and talk about what she is worried about. Then have her put on the "smart" glasses and challenge her to try to look at the issue from a more realistic and positive point of view. Explain how the worry glasses can make something seem worse than it really is. Another idea, suggested by school psychologist Zemirah Jazwierski on her Kids' Relaxation website, is to take your child outside with bubble solution and a giant bubble wand. Have your child create a bubble and tell her to blow her worry into it. As the bubble floats away and pops, explain that the worry is gone and cannot bother her again.
Give your child a small cardboard box and cut a slit into it. Let your child decorate it however she would like and name it the "Magic Worry Box." Whenever she is really worried about something, have her write it down on a piece of paper and discuss it with mom or dad. If she is still worried, tell her to put the note in the worry box. That way, she doesn't have to carry around the burden of the worry. In the meantime, encourage her to relax while you and your spouse try to alleviate that worry in any way possible. At the end of each week, have her throw out all the worries in the box to symbolize that those worries should be gone forever.
Try relaxation exercises with your child that are meant to relax the body and return it to a calmer state. First find a quiet, relaxing area inside or outside of your home. Have her release tension by shaking her body from head to toe. Instruct her with phrases like "Wiggle your toes!" and "Flap your arms like a bird!" Next, try deep breathing by encouraging her to hold her stomach as she breathes in deeply, letting the breath fill her lungs before slowly breathing out through lips pursed like she is about to whistle. Tell her to imagine her favorite things as she continues breathing deeply several times. You may also want to look into a yoga class for your child, which teach a variety of breathing and relaxation techniques that reduce anxiety and worry.
- Mr. Worry; Roger Hargreaves
- Wilma Jean, The Worry Machine; Julia Cook
- What To Do When You Worry Too Much; Dawn Heubner
- Worry Wise Kids: Script for School Aged Children and Teens
- Kid's Relaxation: Worry Bubbles
- Might Mommy: 6 Ways to Help Kids Conquer Worry
- Inner Health Studio: Breathing Relaxation for Children: Free Relaxation Script
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Yoga Can Benefit Children
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