Fredericksburg Parent

May 2018

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28 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • May 2018 With so many kids afflicted with anxiety these days, parents are wise to discuss how to manage nerves with teens before anxious- ness becomes a problem. This means starting conversations in late elementary school and throughout middle school, rather than waiting for high school. Can you anxiety-proof your kids? Probably not completely, but you can teach your child the necessary and important life skills for navigat- ing anxious feelings that are bound to crop up. If your child begins to show signs of persis- tent anxiousness, don't panic. This is your opportunity to spark an ongoing discussion about mood management. Have a talk while you take a walk outdoors or go for a drive. Without making a huge, dramatic deal about it, revisit the topic of managing emotional ups and downs frequently, so your child under- stands that he can and will learn to navigate challenging emotions (see sidebar for when to seek help). As much as you may wish for a magic wand, you don't have one you can wave that makes your child's worries disappear. And even if you did, you don't want to dismiss or minimize your child's anxiety when it crops up. You want to help your children manage the spectrum of emotions that emerge in everyday life. Try these anti-anxiety tips; they can help everyone in the family feel calmer and more centered. You want to help your children manage the spectrum of emotions that emerge in everyday life. Don't Panic About ANXIETY: WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA KATZ ages & stages AFFIRM NERVES ARE NORMAL. Wouldn't life be dull if there was never anything to get anxious about? Of course it would. Talk to your child about facing, showing up for, and walking through life's challenges and how all of this makes us stronger and more confident. You might be tempted to minimize challenges for an emotionally sensitive child, but confronting a steady, manageable flow of age-appropriate challenges is not only educa- tional in the short run, it's also healthy in the long run. TEACH SELF-SOOTHING. Multi-sensory experiences can immediately shift a child out of a nervous mood: taking a bath, singing songs out loud, or exercising vigorously outdoors. Experiment with your child in low-pressure situations to discover tension-reliev- ing activities to use later as needed. Get into the life-long habit of consciously lowering anx- iousness and then redirecting attention in a more productive manner. LET EXCITEMENT FEEL SCARY. Is your child excited? Even healthy excite- ment can feel a little scary sometimes. Not knowing how things will turn out usually makes the heart rate go up and is part of the joy of living. We don't get to control every outcome, which leads to suspense. So our job is to feel the excitement, show up, and put one foot in front of the other, whether things always go our way or not. PACK THREE MEALS PLUS TWO PROTEIN SNACKS. Make sure your child is not suffering from low blood sugar, which can increase anxiety, by planning on three balanced meals daily plus two high-protein snacks like a granola bar or yogurt between meals. If your child shows signs of sugar lows, like shaky hands or emotional outbursts between meals, blood sugar might be an issue. Make a habit of grabbing a sandwich or a protein pack before a stressful event, no matter what the time of day. Teach Teens to Navigate Nerves When Anxiousness Strikes

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