Sensory techniques to help primary age children cope with worry

Posted on: 2nd July, 2018

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Amanda Roe helps clients recover from psychosomatic, stress and trauma induced behaviours and illnesses she works in Market St. Clinic Skibbereen and can be contacted at 087 6331898.

By Amanda Roe

Kids worry about all sorts of stuff like school friendships, spelling tests, being the last person picked for a sport team or what it means for them when granny dies or parents argue. We all want our children to be able to manage their emotions, to feel relaxed and confident around others, but thoughts, beliefs, trauma and memories trigger feelings and emotions that children can find confusing and difficult to understand.

When children are confused or unable to manage feelings, it can be stressful for them and reflected in their behaviour, as they find it difficult to think and just react. It is important to remember your child is a great kid; his or her behaviour is a reflection of their ability to cope with situations, feelings and stress. If you notice a change in personality, a withdrawal into themselves, mood swings or aggressive behavior, these are signs that your child needs your help to navigate thoughts and feelings and cope with the events that are going on in his/her life.

If your child uses two or three of the following phrases repeatedly – “I’m tired”; “What is wrong with me”; “My head hurts”; “I don’t feel well”; “Leave the light on for me at night”; “Can we stay home?”; Don’t leave me” – these can be code words that indicate the worry is becoming anxiety.

As parents we want to do our best but it can be challenging and frustrating to say or do the right thing especially in the midst of a tantrum, so here are some sensory techniques, that I have found when used daily can calm children and help them manage their worries without talking about the problem.

• A hug – we all know how wonderful it feels to be connected to those we love with a hug. In the midst of a tantrum talking about the behaviour will make things worst, as the bodies fight or flight response diminishes our brain’s ability to think. A silent hug is unconditional and can quickly calm the body.

• Draw a figure of eight on your child’s forehead, as you hug them. If they reject it you can draw it on your own forehead; as your energy changes notice how theirs does too.

• In Chinese medicine there are acupressure points on the hands that bring comfort to the body and mind. Many children who worry find comfort in sucking their thumbs. Try asking them to squeeze their thumb gently instead of sucking it or you can do it for them

• Tap under the eye – meridian tapping stimulates many of our body’s innate relaxation and healing processes.

• Tell your child how wonderful they are; they won’t know it unless you tell them.

• Make sure your child is getting enough sleep

Believing in your child and incorporating these and other sensory techniques into your daily routine can support your child’s confidence to grow and leave them better equipped to manage their feelings and daily stress. The above techniques also work for adults so use them at home and let me know how you get on amanda@marketstclinic.com.

Some emotions can be persistent or overwhelming and require the assistance of a trained therapist. So if symptoms persist get in touch, as a unique tailor-made approach may be more appropriate for you.

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