Teaching Children Rehearsed Steps to Cope With Anxiety
Many children respond well to acronyms or other self-help steps that train them to cope with anxiety producing situations. While these techniques can seem a little korny to parents, such mantras do a couple of very important things. First, they provide a quick queue that parents can give to prompt children to think about their anxiety. By saying "skiddle" or "skip" or "do your detective steps," parents can get their kids started on the path to coping.
Secondly, they arm a child with a plan of action that helps them feel more empowered over their anxiety. This is something they can do – a set of steps that gives them more control over their own thoughts. It's sort of like a surgeon having a pre-surgery checklist they can run through as opposed to trying to think of everything on the fly. Kids with anxiety tend to crave order and consistency, and this technique provides both.
So if your child struggles with chronic anxiety, it would be worth the time to help them memorize a specific mantra to deal with anxious situations. We've listed a few examples, but feel free to develop your own based on the same general criteria.
The anxious detective steps
This is typically used for kids with social phobia, but can be adapted towards any type of anxiety.
Step #1: Detect
STOP and ask yourself, what is the problem?
Step 2: Investigate