It’s normal for students to feel worried, particularly when encountering new situations and experiences. However, if you notice that anxiety stops your child from participating in activities or social events, or that his or her fears and worries seem out of proportion to the situation, they may benefit from some extra support.
One of the best things you can do for your child is help them to manage their anxiety.
You might try some of the following with him or her:
- Encouraging participation in physical activity. This can help to burn off anxious physiology (i.e. the ‘fight/flight response’).
- Engaging in long exhale breaths which empty the lungs. This can help to calm anxious physiology (i.e. the ‘fight/flight response’) by slowing the heart rate, which then makes it easier to think clearly.
- Using mindfulness and the five senses to focus on environment (notice five things you can hear, see, feel, smell and/ or taste), rather than anxious physiology and thoughts. This can help to break the cycle of anxious thoughts and reduce the severity of anxious physiology.
- Setting aside a ‘worry time’ each day (that isn’t too close to bedtime), to draw or write down worries. This can help to ‘get the worries out’, and can limit the amount of time spent on worrying.
- Challenging anxious thoughts (including reminding of past coping, highlighting facts or evidence, or planning future coping with difficulties). This can help to manage ‘what if’ and ‘catastrophic’ thinking.
- Facing fears, when it is safe to do so. This can help to manage the avoidance associated with anxiety, and also garners concrete evidence in order to challenge anxious thoughts.
If your child would like additional support at your school, please contact your school counselling team.
Students and parents Knox can contact their classroom teacher (Prep) or mentor (Senior School).
Written by the Knox Psychology Team (Knox Wellbeing Centre)