Stress & Anxiety in Children & Teens

Stress. There’s a lot of it around these days isn’t there? And I’m not talking about us grown ups here, I’m talking about our children. I have lost count of the number of stories I hear about children as young as 5 suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. The work I do with teenagers has increased phenomenally over the last 6 months, the workshops I run in primary schools are now almost fully booked for the rest of this year and I have been contacted 3 times in the last week alone by concerned parents asking me to work with their small child.

So, if you are one of those parents, concerned about your child’s mental health then please keep reading. I am going to share my top 3 tips on helping your child deal with stress and anxiety, methods that I use regularly with my own children.

Top Tip 1: Breathe….

The simplest and most effective way to calm yourself down, when you feel stressed or anxious or wound up, is to focus on your breathing. An exercise I use a lot with children is one called Tummy Breaths. Ask your child to lie down flat on their back with their legs straight out. Place their hands flat on their tummy, one above the other. Now ask them to gently breathe in and out. They don’t need to change or manipulate their breath in any way, just breathe normally. As they breathe ask them to pay attention to the movement of their hands as the tummy moves up with each breath in and down again with each breath out. Get them to put their full attention and focus on the movement of their hands and their tummy. Tell them that if any thoughts about anything else come into their mind they can just gently bring their attention back to the movement of their hands and their tummy. Each time their mind wanders off, which it will do quite a lot, especially to start with, they just gently bring their focus back to their tummy going up and down with each new breath. This is a lovely thing to do just before they go to sleep, to relax those busy minds.

Top Tip 2: Be Glad!

Every night, at their bedtime, play this game with your child. It is called The Glad Exercise and very simply you sit down and think about everything that has happened on that particular day. Then you must find as many things as you possibly can to be glad about or grateful for. They don’t have to be enormous, exciting things. Simple things such as seeing your friends, having a hug with someone you love, something nice somebody said to you, eating some food that you like, watching a programme you enjoy – all of these every day things pass us by without us giving them the attention they deserve. Play this game every night and remind your child, and yourself, of all the brilliant, wonderful things there are in your lives.

Top Tip 3: SleepTalk

This incredibly simple process involves you talking to your child while they sleep and repeating a set of tried and tested phrases designed to help your child to feel the love that is all around them. It takes a couple of minutes every night and, over time, can transform your child from anxious and worried to calm and confident.

All of the techniques I have outlined are simple to use and incredibly effective at helping your child to manage their own emotions. And the best bit is you can use them all too!

For more information on my work with schools please visit http://www.thehappinessclub.co.uk/schools/

For more information on The Goulding SleepTalk Process contact Debbie Hayes: hello@debbiehayes.co.uk

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