Helping Kids Find Their Brave
There is no doubt the Primary theme for 2020 of Choose Courage is very appropriate within the current situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many factors contributing to feelings of confusion, fear, uncertainty, frustration and anger, an increase in anxiety levels among children and adults can be expected.
Recently, Dana Kerford (founder of URSTRONG) interviewed Karen Young (psychologist, founder of Hey Sigmund website and author of “Hey Warrior” and “Hey Awesome”) on the topic of anxiety in children. The interview covered the science behind anxiety, how parents and educators can support children to cope with anxiety, and how we can empower children to find their brave.
Some key take-aways from this interview include:
- Anxiety is a normal human response to stress and threat that we all experience. It becomes a problem when it causes problems in one’s ability to function normally in their everyday lives.
- Anxiety can look like so many different things and is different for everyone. Some common responses in children are sick/sore tummies, headaches, tearing-up, anger, clinginess, avoidance, exhaustion, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite, and “what if” questions.
- In the midst of anxiety, human brains are unable to think clearly, rationalise or communicate effectively. When someone is experiencing anxiety, their brains are registering threat and a fight or flight response is triggered. To help bring them calm, those around them need to help their brains to register safety. This can be achieved by being a calm and steady presence, speaking in a melodic voice and letting them know you see them, hear them and understand their feelings.
- Acknowledging, labelling and validating emotions has been proven to calm the nervous system.
- Once calm, the opportunity to problem solve, put things right, and take small steps to regain a sense of control can be established.
- Children look to adults for signs of safety. Anxiety is catchy but so too is calmness. Disconnection and a focus on behaviour during times of heightened anxiety contributes to further anxiety.
- Parents and educators need to help children to build a bridge to the end when the threat or danger is finished. The aim should not be to protect children from pain, but rather be a strong, steady support, offering a safe and calm space for children to express their emotions and guide them onto a path to resilience. They need to know that “we can’t love them enough” and that “they’re not too much for us to handle.”
- Consistent practice of mindfulness; deep breathing; exercise; brave, positive thinking habits; and self-care assist in the re-wiring of the brain to reduce anxiety and improve wellbeing.
For a limited time a replay of the interview can be found on the website and accessed with password 1x!Okg!H
For further articles, videos, and resources to assist children with anxiety visit this website.
Or to focus on our theme of Choose Courage visit this website and for more information click here.
An additional webinar, being hosted by the Institute of Positive Education, is being held on May 14 at 8:00pm with bestselling author and illustrator and former Creative Director of the Black Dog Institute, Matthew Johnstone. The webinar aims to share proven methods to reduce stress, manage anxiety and lift your mood. Click here for more detail and to register.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s wellbeing, please contact Mr Daniel Wearne (Primary) or Mr Alan Parsons (Secondary).