Children learn by experiencing the world through their senses and their emotions. It is wondrous to watch and help our children develop especially when they are having happy experiences.
In addition to happy times our children also endure unpleasant experiences like anxiety. These emotions are scary for children and they look to their parents to help them handle these feelings.
When our children are having feelings like anxiety, using strategies and phrases to talk to your child about how to get calm helps them learn techniques that they can use for the rest of their lives.
In his book "The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive," Dr. Daniel J. Siegel shares a holistic approach to raising children.
Strategy #8 in Siegel's book is called "Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go." Some of the best ways to do that is to use simple phrases with your children when they are feeling anxious.
Here are my top five phrases from an article in the Huffington Post called "49 Phrases to Calm an Anxious Child." These are my favorites because the are based on mindfulness practices that have been adapted to work for children.
1) “I’m taking a deep breath.”
Teach your child how take deep breaths by breathing with them. You can even allow them to sit on your lap and feel your breathing.
2) “Can you draw it?”
Drawing is a creative way to express your thoughts and feelings. It is a great way to help kids understand what is causing them to feel uncomfortable.
3) “Close your eyes. Picture this ...”
Visualization is a way to ease anxiety. Guiding your child to feel safe and happy feelings can reverse anxiety.
4) “We’re going for a walk.”
Exercise can change the situation and alleviate anxiety.
5) “Let’s write a new story.”
Let your child rewrite the situation that is uncomfortable and make it safe for the child.