Why Mindfulness Strategies for Kids with ANXIETY

I have recently spent some time doing some research on childhood anxiety, and did you know that over 4.4 MILLION children have been diagnosed with anxiety?! That’s Soooo many! Too many! And that number only represents those who have been formally diagnosed, so the real number is likely much larger. 

No doubt there are anxious students in your schools right now who you are supporting. Here are some simple ideas of how to help these students by using one of the most effective coping skills for anxiety…Mindfulness!

Mindfulness is such a powerful coping skill for anxiety because it helps train people (including children) learn how to take anxious thoughts that are stuck…either in the past or future and center them in the present. By refocusing our thoughts on the present, students will feel more calm and in control. Here are a few Mindfulness techniques that you can use with your students.

Including mindfulness materials in the calm down area

Do you have a “Calm-Corner” in your classroom or office? A calm-corner is a space where students can take a few, but no more than 10, minutes to relax, reflect, distract themselves, and use strategies from emotional-regulation.

If you don’t have the space in your office or classroom, try adding a “Calm-Box”. This can be a box full of Mindfulness Coloring, Squishies, fidgets, easy puzzles, silly-putty, Liquid timer, or maze worksheets that can help students with anxiety to implement Mindfulness into their day when needed.

Grounding Techniques

Do you ever use grounding techniques when you are starting to feel upset or anxious? I do. My favorite to use for myself is the 5-4-3-2-1. You notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can touch, and 1 thing you can taste. It’s so helpful in bringing your thoughts to the present moment. This technique helps shift focus from overwhelming thoughts to immediate sensory experiences, promoting a sense of connection to the present moment.

Belly Breathing is another technique that is easy to teach students. To teach breathing techniques, guide the child to take slow, deep breaths, focusing on the rise and fall of their belly. Inhale slowly through the nose, hold for a moment, and exhale through the mouth. Repeat this several times. There are several types of breathing techniques out there. Here’s a worksheet activity with 5 different strategies that have the links to videos that can teacher the student how to breath.

Once I have the student practice the breathing in counseling, I will send them back class with the one-page reference sheet, so that the strategies are easy to access. Remember, it’s essential to introduce these techniques in a calm and supportive environment, and encourage the child to practice them regularly so they become familiar tools for managing difficult emotions. Additionally, adapt the techniques based on the child’s age and preferences.

Teaching Mindful Mantras

Teaching kids mindful mantras to alleviate anxiety involves introducing positive affirmations in a simple and relatable way. Begin by explaining that a mantra is like a friendly phrase they can say to themselves when they feel worried. Choose age-appropriate mantras that resonate with the child’s emotions, such as “I am calm and brave” or “I can handle anything that comes my way.”

Here’s an arts and crafts activity to do with your class or counseling students that focus’ on positive thinking and self-esteem using a personal mantra.

Practice saying the mantras together, emphasizing the importance of speaking them with a calm and steady voice. Encourage the child to repeat these mantras silently or out loud whenever they sense anxiety, helping them develop a proactive and empowering response to challenging situations.

Mindfulness Coloring for Anxiety

Mindfulness coloring offers various benefits for both children and adults. Engaging in this activity promotes relaxation by encouraging individuals to focus on the present moment. The repetitive and rhythmic nature of coloring can be meditative, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, it enhances concentration and fine motor skills as individuals pay attention to intricate details and carefully navigate within the lines. Mindfulness coloring serves as a creative outlet, allowing people to express themselves through color choices and artistic interpretations, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-expression.

Moreover, mindfulness coloring can be a valuable tool for improving mental well-being. It acts as a form of mindfulness meditation, enabling individuals to cultivate a sense of calm and heightened awareness. The activity encourages a break from the demands of everyday life, creating a peaceful space for self-reflection and introspection. As individuals immerse themselves in the coloring process, they often experience a mental shift, promoting a positive mindset and providing an opportunity for emotional release and relaxation.

Videos for Breathing and other Calming Strategies Instruction

Last, but not least, you can show kids videos and practice the strategies in your counseling sessions. From cartoons, to watching other kids, there are tons to choose from. Here are just 2 from the YouTube Channel, Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun.