Anxiety disorders are the most common childhood-onset psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders in children are associated with educational underachievement and co-occurring psychiatric conditions, as well as functional impairments that can extend into adulthood.
The most recognizable cognitive pattern in anxiety is worry. The child ruminates on “what if” thoughts about negative events that might happen in the future. Worrying is an attempt to prepare and to feel in control. Unfortunately, the brain treats every “what if” thought as something that WILL happen rather than as something that MIGHT happen. This activates the fight or flight reaction even when no actual danger or threat is present.
With coping skills training, your child learns to relax at the first sign of the stress response. They are able to counter the “what if” thoughts with coping thoughts when faced with a challenging situation.
What are the Benefits of Coping Skills Training?
Coping skills training reduces stress and anxiety. It can improve sleep, happiness and resilience. Coping skills training improves relaxation and calmness, while promoting the ability to manage difficult emotions.
Step One: Relax and Be Mindful
Coping Skills Training at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is made up of evidence-based relaxation techniques. Here are some of the techniques we use at Mindful Child:
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Progressive relaxation
- Relaxation without tension
- Cue-controlled relaxation
- Special-place visualization
You can significantly reduce stress and anxiety with these techniques, but it will take daily practice. Additionally, the techniques should be taught in the order listed above. Deep diaphragmatic breathing should always be taught first. Poor breathing habits diminish the flow of gases to and from your child’s body, making it harder for them to cope with stressful situations. In addition, to following the specified order it is important to make the activities FUN. My book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, contains breathing and relaxation techniques specifically for children. Better yet – if you are in the Kansas City area, sign-up your child up for a aerial yoga and mindfulness class, camp or kid’s yoga night out.
Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874
Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry, 8, 41. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41