Why Childhood Anxiety Is Harmful
As mentioned before, experiencing anxiety is normal to some extent. Adults and children alike face feelings of anxiety, sometimes on a daily basis.
But anxiety has a nasty way of infiltrating lives. In other words, it can take over, forcing the feeling of peace and security out the door. When this happens to your child, it can cause them to suffer.
Your child’s mind and body can sense stress and anxiety. It responds by activating a part of the autonomous nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, or otherwise known as the “fight-or-flight” response. Increasing their heart rate, producing racing thoughts, making them short of breath, and causing a panic attack in the worst cases.
As you may have guessed, children often act out when these frightful sensations befall them. Some children may even get “frozen” in this state, causing a decline in both mental and physical health.
To help your child enjoy life and be their best self, it’s vital to detect and challenge childhood anxiety.
How Mindfulness Helps with Reducing Anxiety
Firstly, let’s talk about what mindfulness is to a child. Blessed as they are, children are naturally mindful little beings. In other words, they live in the moment. They enjoy the tickle of fresh grass on their toes, the gooey paint between their fingers, and the smell of cookies baking in the oven.
Yet, when they feel anxious, these natural tendencies often dissipate. Our job as parents is to reinforce the wonderful gift of mindfulness that children have. Not only does this strengthen their self-awareness and confidence but it also empowers them to regulate their emotions.
When your child feels anxious, they can use mindfulness to redirect their minds and bodies back to the present moment. Thus, activating the part of the nervous system responsible for peaceful functions like eating or sleeping.
By switching their bodies into a state of calm, your child can learn to manage feelings of anxiety and feel more in control.
How to Teach Your Child Mindfulness
Teaching mindfulness to a child is slightly different than teaching it to an adult. More often than not, it’s easier!
Notice and Encourage Awareness
For starters, begin to notice the mindful tendencies your child already has—noticing a particular smell in the grocery store, hearing a certain sound in a song, feeling their heart beat faster after they’ve played, etc.
Furthermore, encourage this kind of awareness on a daily basis. It will take a bit of observation on your part but will be well worth it.
Next, take a moment to purposefully practice this same kind of awareness when they are calm. Prompt them to use their senses to pay attention to different things, such as how the air sounds as they exhale through their nose, for example.
Practice Mindfulness in Real Life
The next step is to put this mindfulness to use during an emotionally charged moment. Encourage them to be self-aware, noticing how their body feels. You can even help them name the emotion and sensations they’re feeling.
When your child practices mindfulness in the face of anxiety, they will be able to acknowledge the negative impact and move through it.
Mindfulness is all about self-awareness. And self-awareness is infused with natural solution-finding skills.