How to Help Your Child Calm Down During Panic? 9 Parenting Strategies

You know when you see that look of terror in your child’s eyes.
Sometimes they cry, shake, and refuse to do whatever it is they are scared of doing.
It may be going to school or to sleep alone, or they refuse to perform something you know they can do, sometimes your child may be convinced he or she is dying and ask you over and over again for reassurance. This intense anxiety can test any parent’s patience. Of course it’s irrational and of course you cannot reason with them during this intense state. So, what on earth do you do? Try to take a step back and think of yourself as a coach, a coach who can try to help you child slow things down and look at what is happening, almost from a bird’s eye view.
Here is a list of strategies to help the situation.
Firstly, calm yourself down. Do not yell or try to reason. Know that they are truly terrified and feel threatened and feel compassion for they are truly suffering. Then slow down. Slow down your rate of speech, lower your voice, relax your body posture.
2) Tell your child ” I see you are having a hard time”. Reflect what you see. For example” I see your eyes are wide and your hands are clenched” “Let’s slow things down a bit.”
3) Use the “feelings thermometer” concept as a tool for your child to do a body scan and identify and rate the intensity of their feelings. “What is your feelings thermometer?” This is a technique that should be previously established and incorporated into your language. This is a tool for your child to communicate how strong his or her feelings are.
4) Next ask them to describe where in their body they feel those feelings.
5) Slow down more and ask details to describe what those feelings are like. This is a mindfulness technique that will help children focus on their feelings rather than escape them. Ask them to use their imaginations and describe what temperature the feeling is? what color that feeling is? what shape? what texture? and continue to focus on the feeling. Make sure you are keeping your voice very calm when prompting your child through these questions.
6) Ask your child to re-rate the feelings with the feelings thermometer (most likely you will see a decrease). Continue to focus on feelings until the rating goes down.
7) Ask what their anxious thoughts are? Have them imagine putting those worries in a cloud and imagine they are simply floating above and noticing them. Label them “they are anxious thoughts.”  As you label them you notice them and explain that these thoughts may float away and come back and float away again, and they are just thoughts.
8) Ask your child to choose an action that will be a brave choice that will help them face their fear and lessen their anxiety. Hopefully, you are all learning that avoidance, escape, rescue, excessive questioning, overanalyzing, and excessive reassurances will not make the anxiety better. In fact it will worsen it.
9) Lastly, praise and reward your child and yourself for being brave and making new behavioral choices that will change their habits and decrease their anxiety.
If you need professional help in managing your child’s anxiety, please click on “Book Online Now” to schedule an initial phone consultation.

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