Charles Spurgeon once said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”
If you are parenting a little one with anxiety, you know all too well what this means. It is exhausting to spend so much time worrying about THEIR worrying. However, treatment for anxiety has come leaps and bounds in recent years, and the marketplace has exploded with “fidgets” and “calming sensory toys” that promise to take away your child’s anxiety.
While we do not promise that any single book or gadget can take away the battle that is anxiety, there are a few I have personal experience with and recommend for various reasons.
Top 5 Calming Gadgets
These chew necklaces can be a lifesaver for children who chew on hair or clothing when anxious. My own son, whom I would usually not consider anxious, would begin to chew on the neck of his shirts when overstimulated. He was coming home every day with sopping wet shirts.
I ordered him these necklaces from Amazon that look like Legos, but can be chewed on. It did not make him stand out to his peers, but did provide much-needed sensory relief and saved quite a bit of clothing.
When my daughter begins to grow anxious, having something to squeeze on often provides great relief.
We have several stress-relieving squeeze balls and balls like the one pictured above sitting around our house. I also used this to help my father regain some strength in his hands after he had a severe stroke. Boys tend to have less fine motor skills than girls, and I have found that squeeze balls and play-doh can assist greatly with this.
Think the sensory timers with oil and food coloring in them. With a timer, children can watch the color separate from the oil over and over as they flip the timer. Kinesthetic sand is also wonderful at calming nerves. It has just enough texture in it to really pack well together as children build structures and squeeze it in their little hands, providing just enough sensory relief.
My own child often needs physical touch to calm herself. She has a weighted blanket like the one above to use when anxious because it feels like she is being wrapped up in a hug.
A good rule to follow here is the blanket should be no heavier than ten percent of the child’s body weight. So, a fifty-pound child could use a five-pound blanket.
White noise machines
If your child is having a hard time sleeping, a white noise machine might be a blessing. As an adult, I sleep better with my fan on. The gentle lull of the fan relaxes me and puts me to sleep. Children work the same way. The white noise machine is just enough noise to drown out distractions, but soothing enough to relax them enough to be able to get better rest.
Top 5 Picture Books to Promote Discussions on Worry and Emotions
In this story, a small bear learns a strategy to keep his worries at bay and enable him to have fun. He then shares his knowledge with a new friend.
Here, a little girl just wants to have fun, but her worry keeps convincing her to give up before she gets started. Watch what happens when she decides to stand up to the worry monster.
As part of the “A Little Spot of…” series, Alber takes children through a delightful explanation of anxiety and presents some strategies to deal with those worrisome feelings.
Wilma Jean worries about everything, big and small. Watch as she learns to take control of her worries!
This book explains to children what actually happens in their bodies as they worry. It is informative without going over little heads.
Utilize Music and Art to Calm your Little One
Often underutilized is the role that the creative side of the brain can play in calming a child. A crayon book with some soft, soothing music can help a child move from panicked to peaceful within minutes. If your child likes order and control, this strategy might very well help them gain that sense of peace as they gain control over their emotions.
We have a dedicated page on our website that addresses anxiety in children. You can find that in our children’s mental health resource here. You may also find this section on anxiety and stress to be helpful for you as a parent!
No one strategy is guaranteed to be successful for every child. As a parent, it is crucial to remain flexible and willing to experiment with what will work well for your child at the present time in his or her life.
Being part of a supportive community that can lift you up on hard days and offer new ideas to try can be really beneficial. One such group is a private group of parents and educators that I moderate for on Facebook called “Kid’s Mental Health Lockdown Resources”. This group is sponsored by The Lily-Jo Project for anyone who works with children on a daily basis in any capacity. You can request to join this group here …we would love to have you!
In conclusion, remember to give yourself grace. Anxiety can be very challenging to live with, whether it is in you or your child. If you have a hard day, get some rest, recharge, and try again.