Today in a meeting with educational staff we were talking about increasing a particularly anxious child’s sense of control. Increasing a child’s sense of control within our safe boundaries and confines can help to decrease anxiety levels because the child can then have a ‘say’ about his or her environment. Here were some of the ideas we came up with:
- Using a ‘choice board’ to show the child the activities that need doing each day in the educational setting, but allowing him or her to choose the order in which they want to do the activities.
- Using a ‘visual schedule’ to show the child the expectations for the day i.e. literacy, recess, music, lunch, swimming, home.
- Establishing calming activities and spaces for the child for when he/she feels overwhelmed, such as a tent, music, sensory toys, trampoline etc. This relies on either the child being able to communicate their feelings in some way, or the staff reading the child to determine he/she is needing a break or some down time.
- Using sensory aides to assist with self-regulation such as weighted products, posture wedges etc.
- Using visual timers to help the child understand the length of time he or she will be engaged in a particular task, or to show how long it will be until home time.
- Offering many ‘choice of two’ options throughout the day i.e. “do you want the blue chair or the red one?”; “do you want to do the puzzle or the craft table?” etc.
These are just some ideas that we use for children who are struggling with anxiety in educational settings – and at home for that matter! If you know of a kiddo who needs more specific ideas, get in touch with us at Northern Centre for Child Development.
Photo credit Charlotte NC Child Portrait Photographer