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29/09/2021

Coping kit for children with anxiety

Helping to cope

What is anxiety?

It is normal for our bodies to prepare us for challenges by giving us an increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, muscle tension, sweats, shakes and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach (this often happens when making a speech or doing an interview), this is anxiety.

Anxiety is worry.

It is an emotion that we all feel when we are faced with challenges. Anxiety, at times, can be useful as it helps us prepare for and perform tasks.

Anxiety disorders occur when the anxiety becomes intense, causes distress, lasts a certain amount of time (not just a few days) and affects day to day living (Tusla Parenting 24seven Key Messages).

Parents cannot protect their children from experiencing anxiety but what they can do is help their children learn how to cope with their anxiety.

There are many ways to support your child and one way is by developing a ‘coping kit’ with them.

A coping kit provides the child with a number of coping skills and will help your child to feel empowered to work through their anxieties using their own kit full of strategies that work best for them.

Not all coping skills work all the time so it’s good to create a list or kit. Each child’s coping kit will be unique and specific to them but to get you started here are some suggestions that your child might include in their kit:

- Practicing positive self-talk
- Deep breathing exercises
- Using a stress ball
- Physical exercise
- Talking to someone they trust
- Reframing their thoughts, turning a negative into a positive
- Writing things down
- Listening to music
- Going to a quiet place

A book suggestion for little ones experiencing anxiety and worries is The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin which is an excellent picture book that helps children explore difficult emotions and face their fears. The charming story, containing an easy mindfulness technique, helps children return to the present moment.

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