Monday, May 21, 2012

Techniques for Home, School, or Both

A goal for many students who worry a lot is to develop strategies to use when they start to feel anxious. When talking to students I like to use visuals to help coach them to develop a plan to lessen the difficult thoughts, feelings, and body response for themselves.  Since many anxious people have thoughts that ruminate on their worries, a useful first step is visualize a STOP sign and say "stop."  Since breathing is one of the fastest ways to stop the fight or flight response, I suggest they then take several deep belly breaths.  Finally we talk about other things to do to handle the anxiety.  They need options for home and school (also the car, etc). Usually children have several strategies for home - listen to music, read, go outside.  Many of our children have electronics that can hold relaxing music they can play in car or at home.  School is often more tricky.  They may be able to get a drink of water, roll their head, or use a stress ball.  Since I know the teachers, I can help them pick some ideas that I know will be okay with a particular teacher.  Sometimes I have the client take the plan with them, but I also have this form laminated that I can write on, and sometimes I keep what we discussed in their folder in my office so we can assess the next time if their plan is working.  Clients need to learn to implement their plan before the energy behind the anxiety is too intense.

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