This was a question I was asked today by a loving mum. This evening, as I was hanging up the washing with my two boys, I thought I’d ask them what suggestions they had. Well frankly, they came up with so many helpful ideas that could be used for anxiety, stress, anger or frustration, I thought I’d share them with you here. I’m going to use their words exactly as they spoke them to me.
Spin round three times and watch your worries fly away.
Mum, you might want to hold your arms open around him as he’s doing this to let him know you’re there, and he’s safe – and in case he gets dizzy! Once he’s finished you are there to cuddle him straight away.
Take three deep breaths.
We’ve used that for everything as our first response. The first time one of my boys said “Take 3 deep breaths mummy” it really did stop me in my tracks as I realised I had developed my own support by supporting my children!
Tell him to talk to his mum, or his favourite toy.
Talk therapy. It’s vital.
Ooh, yes, take three deep breaths and then when you speak keep your voice neutral and calm. Or take your frustration out on a pillow.
If he does sport, he could do some practice to help him get rid of his frustrations or anger. Or dance.
My boys don’t understand anxiety, but they do get angry or frustrated. However, as they are all “energising” emotions the solutions they have come up with could be useful and are worth trying.
Ask him to think about all the times he’s “bossed” something – even better if he can come up with a time that he bossed something that he was worried about doing.
I love this one – maybe ask your child to share these things with you and depending on their age or interests, they or you capture them in a list, mind-map, or picture. Then keep it so they can go back to it when they need it or want it.
Ask his mum to write him a letter about how she loves him and she’s always there for him no matter what. Like you and Dad did for me when I did the 11+.
Brought tears to my eyes.
Get a friend or two round just to chill with him and be together.
My son then asked if he knew this person, because he would go round and hang with him. Yup! More tears to my eyes.
Take him for a massage and with every move the massage therapist makes, the anxiety breaks up into little pieces; little enough to flow away through the body. Have lots of water to help wee it all out.
Firstly, Donna Peck, that’s how inspirational a massage therapist you are. Secondly, that’s my boy – we’re quite happy to talk about bodily functions in the name of wellbeing.
Does he have a favourite smell? Something nice to help him?
We use Neom products as I’m their Lifestyle Coach, and the boys love their sleep range. You could try something similar such as lavender essential oil, or if you have a perfume that they like, spray a little onto a hanky. There might be something that you know instantly works for them, or you could introduce them to something new, such as a herb picked from the garden.
Help him find some calming music to listen to – calming, mum, not too lively.
No extra comment needed from me!
Get him something to squeeze – let the worry flood into the thing as you squeeze it . If you could bounce it then all the worries leave as it bounces.
Squeeze balls or stress balls are great for this, but use whatever you have to hand.
Imagine you’re in your favourite place and imagine you’re in a really good spirit – just pretend you’re dreaming and let the anxiety out. Actually, as he’s walking into his favourite place, his worry just bounces off and doesn’t come in with him.
Oh, I love this one. The simplicity of it. Walking into your favourite place; your safe space and ask you’re walking in, your worries are let out; detached from you and left outside. You might want to suggest to your child that the rain comes and washes them away.
Play with this and ask your child for their ideas as to how they would like to let go of their worries. Maybe ask them how they would help someone else let go of their worries because that will give you an insight into what would work for them.
And, trust yourself. You’re a loving parent who wants the best for your child, so trust yourself. Just try things out and see how it goes.
Some of these are interventions that my husband and I have used over the years (our boys are now 12 and 14; and one has special needs) and some are fresh and new from them. If they inspire you to try something with your own child, please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org