Dr. Emi Garzitto
How to Teach Anxiety (Part One)
Stress is a normal part of our everyday experience, yet, increasingly we are finding children who are challenged with the practice of managing stress. While the reasons behind this are complex, the next two blog posts will look at what we can do to support children's experience of anxiousness. Top 10 Strategies to Create the Anxious Child This is a provocative title, I know, but it highlights the incredible opportunity parents and teachers have in helping children build stronger capacities in managing anxiety. Below is the first five things we do that inadvertently increase anxious behaviour 1. Keep a Cluttered Space: Less is more. Our brains evolved over thousands of years while moving through open vistas. Increasing the number of visual distractions make it harder for our brains to focus. 2. Avoid all routines and predictability: Brains love repetition. The more we anchor our day with routines and predictable behaviour, the calmer we will be throughout the day. 3. Allow plenty of electronic time, especially evenings and bedtimes. Electronics are part of our lives and they are here to stay. Electronic time should be limited (recent studies suggest as little as 30 minutes screen time a day). Ensure that all electronic devices are off at least 90 minutes before bedtime. 4. It is never your child’s responsibility. Make sure when something painful or uncomfortable happens, that you immediately fight their battles and protect them at all costs. The more practice you have at making mistakes and experiencing yourself mange the stumble, the more confidence and resilience you build. Remember, resilience is the antidote to anxiety! 5. Provide no responsibilities or duties around the household or classroom. Having expectations around contributing to a collective builds confidence, resilience and responsibility. It's even better if you offer no extrinsic reward. That means, cleaning the bathroom and unloading the dishwasher because you are a member of a household is better than cleaning the bathroom and unloading the dishwasher because I get my allowance. Rewarding the behaviour by naming it and providing appreciation helps build and connection. There are the first five, and the next five will be the focus of the next blog post.