What to Say to an Anxious Child
Continuing with the theme of anxiety from last week, I'd like to share some tips with you about speaking to an anxious child. The people at GoZen have created a list of 49 phrases to calm anxious children. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. "Can you draw that?"
One of my favorite things to do with students of any age is to ask them to draw their feelings. Even if they depict their feelings in stick figures or colors and lines, it is helpful. Sometimes it's hard to express how you feel in words, and this can method can help children work through their feelings in a nonverbal way.
2. "Why do you think that is?"
This one works especially well for older students who can be reflective about their feelings. You can help an anxious person try to pinpoint where the anxiety stems from, so that they can be aware of that trigger in the future and slowly work toward disarming it.
3. "If how you feel were a monster, what would it be like?"
I love doing this, even with adults. To personify a feeling often helps us understand its workings, and it can also make it more concrete. That is helpful because we can find its flaws or weaknesses, or even how the monster of anxiety contains our own fragility and tender spots. Sometimes I find that when people personify a feeling, they start to realize its ridiculousness or the comedy in the situation they are anxious about.
4. "What does your thought bubble say?"
This one is great, especially for kids who appreciate graphic novels and comic books. Asking them to relate what their thought bubble might say if they were a character in a comic book can help them articulate what they're going through.
5. "What is the first piece we need to worry about?"
It is very helpful for people with anxiety to approach an issue with concrete, digestible steps. When you can break an issue down into small pieces, It often makes it easier to tackle.
Make sure to click over to the article at GoZen to read their other excellent tips on how to speak to an anxious child.