Children express anxiety and distress in lots of different ways. Some may feel a need for activity and stimuli, while others may withdraw or complain of tiredness or boredom. When children are stressed out, they’re much more open for helpful activities than for long explanations. As you may know from your own experience, over-explaining can lead to frustration on both sides.
If you do these activities together, they can have a double effect. Children can playfully reduce their anxiety or stress, and so can you!
Blow it out and shake it off
1. Blow all of your anxious, angry or worrisome thoughts into balloons
2. Let the balloon go and watch it zoom off. The sound usually leads to laughter. Did you know that laughter is a fast, effective stress-buster? When you’ve had enough, you can put a knot on the balloon and play a wild game of slow-motion volleyball – or pop it with a pin!
Exhale and relax your eyes
1. Blow bubbles from a window or balcony.
2. Follow them with your gaze as long as you can.
Two-for-one: breathing exercise and play. Exhaling activates the “brakes” of the nervous system!
A hunting game to chase away anxiety
1. Choose a color that immediately comes to mind.
2. Look around and count as many objects with this color as fast as you can.
3. CONTEST: Who can find the most objects within 7 seconds? Ready, set GO!
Here’s an example for a quieter version of this game (in German):
Noticing changes in yourself and your child helps regulate stress together!
What do you notice?
FACE: relaxed or tense?
GAZE: focused or soft?
BREATHING: shallow, deep, fast or slow?
VOICE: relaxed or “pressed”?
MUSCLES: loose or tense?