Many of the children I work with in my practice struggle with anxiety, so when I was asked to review Little Worm—A Story About Worry I jumped at the chance.
Have you ever wished you had a guidebook for your child? Thanks to Dr. Alan Kazdin, you can have the next best thing. As a parent, you will get a lot of (often unsolicited!) advice, much of it conflicting. It can be difficult to know who to listen to or what to do.
You like to think of yourself as a good, conscientious parent. You try to protect your child from the negative influences of the media. You don't allow your kids to play violent video games (or play these games in front of them) and you only allow them to watch television shows designed for children.
"The What to Do" Guides are a series of books by psychologist Dr. Dawn Huebner for helping children deal with a variety of problems ranging from every day difficulties, like how to respond to anger, to diagnosable problems, like OCD.
Just as tensing muscles first helps adults ;earn to relax (see yesterday's post), it also helps kids learn to relax more than they would by just thinking relaxing thoughts. To keep the exercise interesting enough to keep kids engaged, a little creativity is needed. You don't want your kid acting out more to avoid a boring activity! In my practice, I provide parents with a script to use every night with their kids. They tense their muscles by doing fun exercises like pretending to squeeze lemonade from lemons, stretching like cats, and chewing jawbreakers. Another blogger has written about a creative spin on a similar script: relaxation flip-books for kids. She provides images and instructions for turning the script into portable flip-books so you can not only teach your child muscle relaxation, but also have a fun reminder on the go!
Tracking positive events is a great exercise for children, too. This can be especially helpful if your child tends to complain or focus on the negative. Sit down at the end of the day and make a game out of seeing how many positive events you can list for the day. This can help them learn that even when things aren't perfect, they're rarely all bad.
Where did the time go? It may seem like just yesterday your child was learning to read, playing with dolls, and eager to hold your hand in public. Now you get an eye-roll and a sigh every time you talk. Suddenly, your child is acting like a teenager. You thought you had several years before the teen attitude kicked in. What happened?
Help children breathe slower by coaching them through the process. As they breathe, say, "Breathe in...2...3...4...and out...2...3..4..." Repeat several times.