Tested ways to help your child play through their anxieties

While the childhood years should be easygoing, children still suffer anxiety and uncertainty. Here are ways to help your child destress.

Tested ways to help your child play through their anxieties
 Through play, children communicate feelings that are difficult to express verbally.

Regardless of how stress-free your child’s life is, chances are they experience anxiety and fear from time to time.

The good news is that, according to Katie Hurley, a psychologist and author of The Happy Kid, play not only relieves tension in children but also provides a safe environment for them to work through difficult issues. She claims that youngsters utilise pretend play and various toys, ranging from stuffed animals and dolls to blocks and bricks, to communicate feelings that are difficult to express verbally.

In his book, The Opposite to Worry, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and play expert, adds that children tend toward play to cope with challenging events. “The scene can be re-created by simulating or recounting the story,” he says, “but this time the youngster is in charge. Emotional healing occurs as a result of acting it out.”

Here are three excellent techniques to assist your children in overcoming their fears via play.

Laughter is the best medicine

Have you noticed how your child will often complain he has a tummy ache when he’s scared or anxious? The theory is that when a child experiences fear or anxiety, his body naturally prepares for fight or flee. This releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which makes his heart beat faster and increases blood flow to his muscles to get ready for danger. This makes it difficult for his muscles to relax and it can affect his digestive system. But this is where laughter helps, say experts. This is because it relaxes muscles, reduces stress hormones and triggers a release of those feel-good hormones called endorphins. Find out what it is that your kid finds funny (no matter how silly you might think it is) and prompt him when he least expects it. This could be anything from pulling weird faces to giving him a good tickle.

The importance of quality bonding time

We love this idea because it fits into our busy schedules. The idea is to set aside 15 minutes or so for “special time”. Use a timer on your phone and let your little one know that when it rings, it’s their “special time”. That means that they can do anything they want with you during this time. Make sure that your phone is off in this time (and the rest of the family knows it’s special time with Johnny) so that you can really make this quality opportunity to be with your child. The idea is for them to take the lead and choose what they want to play with you. Maybe they’ll invent a game where they pretend they’re the mom or dad and you’re the kid, or that they’re the doctor who’s going to give you an operation. The trick is for them to be able to have “special time” with you regularly so that it becomes a way for them to express themselves and they can feel they can depend on you to listen and be at their side.

Bring it on, superheroes!

When kids are frightened and anxious it helps to give them some “superpowers”. You can read into this as you want to, but the idea here is to come up with some fun games where you challenge them physically, but then let them win!  For example, you can have a big pillow fight, a tickling contest, a tug of war, a race across the yard. Remember, you don’t want to overwhelm them with physical force – you want them to play and make them feel powerful.