Julie Casey MSW, RSW

Wellness Care Farm

Nourishing Hearts

How Nourishing Hearts Can Help Your Child

How to Help Your Child Cope: Techniques to Manage Anxiety

Write it out - Throw it out: Have your child write out their fear and then throw it away. This gives your child the ability to control their fear and anxiety by physically tossing it away.

Talk to your worry: Create a worry doll, or have your child talk to their worry as if it was a separate person. This way, your child can express negative thoughts without feeling like they are attacking themselves.

Self-soothe: Have your child hold their own hands or rub their ears. This activates the nervous system in a way that increases the release of oxytocin, affectionately known as the cuddle chemical. This chemical can give feelings of safety to children and even adults!

Use the body: Have your child stretch or do yoga. This allows them to have more control over their body and understand it and where the worry affects them!

Nature & Natural Healing: Take your child outside to experience nature. This activity helps ground your child and expose them to tangible things instead of non-physical things such as worry.

What Does Anxiety Look Like?

For children and youth negatively impacted by anxiety, I help them to be curious about what their body is communicating rather than being fearful and help them to understand how avoidance reinforces and increases the perceived discomforts and beliefs about their anxiety. I help kids to identify their patterns of "twisted thinking" (cognitive distortions) and teach them how to question and challenge their internal dialogue and understanding of themselves, others and the world in which they live. With the understanding and acceptance of anxiety being a natural part of being human, kids learn the intent is not to expect their anxiety to disappear but rather to develop curiosity as to what it is saying, reduce their discomfort and learn how to respond with healthy coping strategies.


How Can Therapy Animals Help?

The inclusion of animals into this counseling process is a wonderful, fun and non-threatening approach to explore anxiety since animals are often hypervigilant to their environment out of concerns of becoming prey to predators. The animals not only provide a supportive and enriched environment that stimulates an oxytocin surge (a natural calming hormone in humans), the animals become objects of projections in which kids can witness and explore non-verbal body language, hypervigilance, support, and self-talk.

Children & Anxiety

Behavioral

  • ​Asks, "What if?" constantly
  • Refuses to go to school
  • Isolates self
  • Refuses to speak to others
  • Overly seeks approval from parents or friends
  • Avoids social situations with peers, such as birthday parties, sleepovers, or play dates
  • Says, "I cant do it!" without a real reason

Physical

  • ​Frequent complaints of headaches or stomachaches
  • Muscles constantly tensed
  • Can become restless, fidgety, hyperactive, or distracted
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Won't use restrooms unless at home
  • Refuses to eat snacks or lunch at school
  • Starts to shake or sweat in intimidating situations


​Emotional

  • ​Cries often
  • Is afraid of making minor mistakes
  • Obsessive thoughts or behaviors, such as finger tapping, hand washing, etc.
  • Having tantrums or meltdowns
  • Extreme test anxiety
  • Extremely sensitive
  • Becomes grouchy or angry for no reason
  • Has phobias



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